UPDATE: Canon issues fighting words to JB Hi-Fi over grey imports

By Claire Reilly

The local subsidiary of Japanese camera specialist Canon has today issued a stinging statement in response to JB Hi-Fi's decision to sell Canon-branded, grey imported cameras on its primary website.

In a statement to Current.com.au this afternoon, Canon said the decision to sell grey products could have a negative impact on the supplier/retailer relationship.

“Naturally we are disappointed that JB Hi-Fi has launched a direct import channel, which in our mind changes them from a pure local-based retailer to a local/grey-market ‘hybrid’ operator,” said Canon Australia’s director of Canon consumer imaging, Jason McLean.

“JB Hi-Fi is a key Canon customer and any changes in our local sales results that this brings about will see us having to redirect our customer focus and support.

“Canon Australia’s purpose as always is to drive value and support locally, and we will continue to work closely with our key customers to do this and deliver our local business targets together.”

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Interestingly, McLean’s disappointment echoed the words of JB Hi-Fi CEO, Terry Smart.

Speaking to Current on Friday, Smart said that the decision by some suppliers to sell directly to consumers (as Canon has done with its online Canon Store) was “disappointing”.

“It’s disappointing because you have a supplier competing, but that is not the driver of this [the move to selling direct imports].

“Retailers and suppliers always have to work together, there is no question,” said Smart. “With products like cameras, it is harder in the sense that you’ve got to continue to work with the supplier but you also have an opportunity of getting products much cheaper off shore and therefore you are competing directly with them if you’re going to participate in that category.”

Last week, Current.com.au reported that JB Hi-Fi was selling DSLR cameras on an “Online Only Direct Import” section of its website, at prices hundreds of dollars below those found its traditional authorised reselling site.

As an authorised reseller of Canon products in Australia, the JB Hi-Fi website offersone Canon-model twin lens kit for $1,177. However, the same model is available for $795 through the new direct import section of the online store.

UPDATE:

Terry Smart has responded directly to the statement issued by Canon yesterday, reaffirming JB Hi-Fi’s position regarding grey imports, and discussing the impact the new online sales model will have on its relationships with local distributors.

“Our goal and desire is to work with local distributors but our overriding objective is to ensure we protect the JB Brand by continuing to offer customers the best value in this global market place,” said Smart.

“We will continue to work closely with all the camera distributors to ensure we work towards delivering the best outcome for us, them and most importantly customer.”
 

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