By James Wells

MELBOURNE: Toshiba Australia will take over the distribution of its own consumer electronics products currently distributed locally by Castel Electronics, by transferring the responsibility to its Sydney-based information systems division on April Fool’s Day in 2007.

Castel will continue to provide service and spare parts for Toshiba products until the end of 2007 and will also be responsible for the initial rollout of the next generation optical disc format – HD DVD next month.

Castel has already hinted at retrenchments, even though it will continue to distribute TCL air conditioners as well as Macintosh and Orion-branded consumer electronics.

According to a joint statement from Castel Electronics managing director, Michael Kwong, and Toshiba Corporation senior manager – Europe and Asia operations, Masaaki Osumi, both parties are seeking a seamless transition.

“Toshiba Corporation has advised Castel of a decision to conduct a ‘vertical restructure’ of their organisation especially in China & Australia. As a result of this restructure, from April 1, 2007, Toshiba browngoods products (LCD, plasma, CRT and rear projection TVs, DVD players and recorders, STBs and PVRs) will no longer be distributed by Castel Electronics within Australia,” the statement said.

“Toshiba (Australia) Pty Ltd will assume distribution responsibility for these products from April 1st 2007 via their Information Systems Division.

“While we have initiated a managerial process of working towards the 31 March 2007 dateline, some immediate aspects of our business operations are unchanged: we will continue to fill backorders and ship stock (we have more Toshiba LCD stock arriving now and in the first quarter of 2007) and we will be launching HD DVD players as planned in January 2007. The Castel service department will continue to provide service and spare parts support for consumers, dealers and service centres until December 31, 2007 even though sales of Toshiba products will be conducted through Toshiba Corporation from 1 April 2007.

“We are currently working towards a harmonious resolution with Toshiba Corporation and it is Castel’s desire to provide ‘seamless’ transition towards this transfer.

“However, from now until 1 April 2007, there sadly will be a gradual reduction of staff levels in nearly all departments within our organisation to better reflect our requirements with our ongoing business of TCL air conditioners, Macintosh audio visual equipment and Orion browngoods products. The management team at Castel is extremely grateful for the hard work of all of its employees over the 10 years we have sold Toshiba browngoods and we wish them well in their future endeavours, either with us or elsewhere.

“Many audio visual dealers who stock Toshiba browngoods have been with us since we re-launched the brand in 1996. We are enormously grateful for your support over the last 10 years; we will always remember our fantastic DVD player sales especially over the years 1999 to 2003, our rear-projection sales in the late 1990s; our most recent sales successes with LCD televisions. Without you, none of this would have been possible and we sincerely thank you. We understand that Toshiba Corporation will wish to at least retain the current distribution network of Castel and trust you will give them the valuable support as you have all these years with us."