It would seem that Japanese TV manufacturers are a bit like buses, nothing for ages and then along come two at the same time..In much the same way as Toshiba TVs are returning to European stores thanks to a strategic partnership with Vestel, so too are Sharp thanks to a strategic alliance with Universal Media Corporation (UMC). The two companies have entered into a binding agreement related to the transfer of Sharp’s audio and video business in Europe. The deal was actually done a while back but the two brands were at IFA together for the first time
UMC have bought the exclusive brand license rights for both the television business as well as the audio business in Europe from Foxconn, in much the same way as Hisense have the Sharp brand rights in America. As part of the brand licensing, Sharp will support the design and development of LCD televisions produced and sold by UMC under the Sharp brand name. As a part of transaction, UMC will be acquiring 100% shares in Sharp Manufacturing Poland, Sharp’s manufacturing base in Poland for LCD televisions, from SHARP. Hisense also bought Sharp's manufacturing plant in Mexico as part of their deal.
UMC plans to revive the manufacturing volumes at Sharp Manufacturing Poland and as such, UMC expects to hire additional staff to support its sales plan. UMC will sell the audio products manufactured by S&O Electronics, Sharp’s manufacturing base in Malaysia for audio products. This strategic alliance will enable UMC to further increase its sales and market share in Europe by expanding into an ‘’A’’ brand market segment, adding Sharp to an existing brand portfolio of Blaupunkt, UMC, Eternity & E-motion.
If you haven't heard of UMC, they're the largest television manufacturer in Europe, assuming you don't count Vestel because they're in Turkey. UMC manufacture 1.5 million TV units a year and is currently the OEM manufacturer for Tesco. The UMC-Sharp stand had plenty of current models from both manufactures on display but the Sharp models are basically the ones sold in Japan such as their 85-inch 8K TV. However one of the reasons for UMC's interest in Sharp is their IGZO technology which allows the manufacture of screens in various shapes, which is proving hugely popular with the automotive industry.
We regularly saw some very impressive Sharp TVs at CES but they rarely made an appearance on this side of the pond due to some very poor distribution. The idea of being able to see some that technology back in European stores is an exciting one and we look forward to seeing what UMC and Sharp actually release together over the next year.
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