By Adam Coleman in Japan

TOKYO, JAPAN: At its head office in Tokyo, Pioneer Electronics has set the sales target of 845 billion yen for the 2006 Japanese fiscal year – a 30 per cent increase on the previous year, with a renewed focus on developing itself as a premium AV brand around its flagship 50-inch 1080p plasma panel.

“Unfortunately last year we had a big loss in operating profit. This year we are aiming for a big recovery and our target is an operating profit of 18 billion yen,” said Pioneer Electronics, general manager Asia Pacific Sales and marketing, Mr Seiya Tanaka.

“Next fiscal year our target is 950 billion yen and an operating profit of over 30 billion yen.”

Pioneer plans to achieve the turnaround with its strategy of industry-first releases, including a Blu-ray player scheduled for the US market next year and concentrating on the key technologies of HD ready plasma panels, DVD/DVR products, fixed in-car navigation and home audio.

“Our motto is to introduce world firsts, industry firsts,” he said.

Tanaka praised the Australian division for its efforts.

“When I heard about Pioneer Australia I was quite surprised, because they are selling a lot of plasma panels and have a big market share. When we think about the [relatively small] size of the market, the success is quite tremendous,” said Susumo Tanaka.

According to Tanaka, the total plasma market is growing but mainly in high definition – an area of focus for Pioneer.

Pioneer will also focus on developing its fixed in-car navigation, which has been a strength for the brand in its domestic market.

“It is growing all over the world, but particularly in Japan. We introduced the first fixed navigation in the Japanese market and we are the market leader,” he said.

Pioneer general manager – business and sales strategy, Yasua Sakuma, reinforced the company’s desire to strengthen its position around its pivotal 1080p plamsa.

“We wish to establish the leading position as the 1080p premium-quality manufacturer, and aggressively develop 1080p capable products by centering it as a core product,” said Sakuma.

Pioneer also outlined plans to introduce an integrated tuner into its plasma panels this year.