Sony to restructure its TV business and focus on 4K Ultra HD models

Sony XB950 4K TV

It's no secret that Sony's TV division, like that of many of its rivals, has been haemorrhaging money and the Japanese giant has been working hard to reduce its losses.

Today it has unveiled the latest part of that plan: it is to split off the TV division from the rest of the business and operate it as a wholly-owned subsidiary from July 2014. At the same time, the company will focus on producing higher end (and presumably higher margin) 4K Ultra HD TV sets, many of which were unveiled at CES in January.

MORE: Sony launches 4K TVs

"First, Sony will shift its product mix and focus on increasing the proportion of sales from high-end models in FY14. Sony plans to reinforce the company's leading position in the 4K market by strengthening its product lineup, while also bolstering its 2K models with wide colour range and image-enhancing technologies," it says in today's statement.

"In emerging markets, Sony will aim to harness market expansion by developing and launching models tailored to specific local needs."

MORE: Sony's full 2014 TV line-up

At the same time, Sony is to sell its Vaio PC business to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). In future, Sony says it will focus on mobile devices, cameras, TVs and gaming.

The firm first unveiled its "TV business profitability improvement plan" in November 2011. Since then, losses from the TV division – which amounted to 147.5 billion yen (£890m) in the year to March 31st, 2012 – were reduced to 69.6 billion yen (£420m) in the following year to March 2013, and are expected to drop to around 25 billion yen (£150m) in the period to March 2014.

MORE: Sony Netflix 4K collaboration

However, Sony admits it won't meet its original target of returning the TV business to profitability in the current financial year, due to the slowdown in emerging markets and currency fluctuations.

Sony's CEO, Kazuo Hirai, says there are no plans for the company's TV business to share the same fate as its PC division.

"We are beginning to see the path to a turnaround in our TV business," he says. "TV remains an important category for Sony."

Overall Sony forecasts a net loss of 110 billion yen (£665m) for the financial year to March 31st 2014, down from its earlier projection of a 30 billion yen profit.

The firm's shift to high-end TV models has seen it secure more than 75 per cent of the market for 4K sets in Japan, it claims, and says it has taken the No.1 slot in 4K TV sales in the US during 2013.

By Andy Clough

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.