UK: AMP is said to be in crucial talks with its existing suppliers following the air conditioning distributor’s shock purchase by Panasonic.
Japanese air conditioning manufacturer Panasonic caused a sensation on Friday (September 1) when it announced the purchase of the long-established and highly respected AMP, a distributor of products from rival air conditioning manufacturers Toshiba, Fujitsu and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).
At a joint Panasonic/AMP press conference today, AMP director Martin Michaelson confirmed that its existing product suppliers were not informed of the deal before the official announcement on Friday and didn’t know as yet whether they intended to continue with their existing contracts.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” he admitted. “We don’t know. We’ve started speaking to them. We couldn’t until after Friday. What will pan out will be very professional because we are very professional, as are Panasonic. Our current suppliers are three very major professional companies and we’re very comfortable that the right decisions will be made, not just for us but the trade in general.”
There has been no response to requests for statements from AMP’s existing suppliers, but the Cooling Post believes that both Toshiba and Fujitsu will terminate their current distribution deals. Both Toshiba and Fujitsu have six other strong UK and Ireland outlets with expansive, distribution networks. MHI is less well-placed with only HRP, now part of the Beijer Ref network, as a distributor in addition to AMP.
All three air conditioning suppliers have had a long association with AMP. The company has represented Fujitsu (originally through its sister company FM) since 1992 and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries since 2006. Toshiba was appointed in 2004, as a replacement for Mitsubishi Electric which had terminated its distribution agreement deal with AMP at short notice.
Panasonic’s Enrique Vilamitjana, managing director of Panasonic Home Appliances Air Conditioning Europe, confirmed that Panasonic had been in discussions with its own existing UK distributors and said the acquisition had been “positively received” by them.
Avoiding mention of the existing AMP product suppliers, Panasonic’s presentation focused on the importance of the European market, and the key significance of the UK in particular, to its commercial air conditioning expansion plans.
Already the No1 residential air conditioning manufacturer in Asia/Pacific and Japan, Panasonic is looking to double commercial air conditioning sales by 2020. Panasonic views the UK as the largest commercial air conditioning market, and expansion here is an important part of current European plans to increase sales by 60% between 2016 and 2018.
Describing the AMP deal as having “huge potential”, Panasonic underlined the importance of the European market, and the key significance of the UK in particular, to its commercial air conditioning expansion plans.
“We want to be a major player in the UK,” said Enrique Vilamitjana. “AMP has huge potential and what is best from our point of view is complementary to our existing partners. We believe by adding solutions, by developing our team, by working with AMP, we will make Panasonic a reference in the air conditioning business.”
Pressed on Panasonic’s UK market aims, Vilamitjana said it wanted to be a good No3 in the market. “We are very close to No3, if we are not already there as a result of this acquisition,” he said.