Toshiba ISD headhunts staff from other AV companies

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Toshiba Information Systems Division, the new distributor of Toshiba-branded audio visual products, is looking to attract staff from rival consumer electronics companies to spearhead its entry into the AV market in LCD TV, HD DVD and camcorders.

Toshiba ISD hopes to bolster its existing team with people experienced in the AV market by the time it assumes control of Toshiba’s AV portfolio from Castel Electronics on 1 April.

“We are actively hiring and we expect to attract good people from our competitors; we have some people coming across from Castel and we also have existing sales staff with lots of experience in audio visual having worked for companies like Sony and Panasonic,” said Toshiba ISD general manager, Mark Whittard.

Whittard hopes to expand the presence of the Toshiba brand in the Australian AV market and will work with the brand’s current electrical retail partners while also pursuing wider distribution.

“Initially there may be one or two new retail partners we will add,” he said.

The company expects retailers currently stocking Toshiba AV products sourced from Castel will respond positively to the new distribution relationship with Toshiba ISD.

“Hopefully they (retailers) will see it as good news. It’s a much larger organisation supporting them and driving the business, and we have plans to grow the business aggressively. We have invited the existing dealer network to work with us and we envisage most will be happy to do so,” said Whittard.

Product categories joining Toshiba ISD include LCD TV, HD DVD players, DVD players and recorders and portable DVD, adding to its existing Toshiba portfolio of notebook PCs and IT equipment, portable audio and camcorders.

The company will also oversee the roll-out of Toshiba’s SED televisions – which according to Whittard are still on schedule for release in early 2008 – and will begin a concerted marketing campaign for HD DVD involving in-store demonstrations.

Castel Electronics is currently in the initial stages of rolling out HD DVD in Australia, having launched the first player in January.

The format war with rival HD optical disc format, Blu-ray, will heat up in the next few months – particularly when Microsoft releases an optional HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360, pitting the format against the Blu-ray-equipped Sony PlayStation 3 launching on March 23.

“We are expecting a collaborative relationship with Microsoft for HD DVD. We already have a strong relationship with them due to our notebook business. Intel and HP are also in our camp,” said Whittard.

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