Ricoh released a statement late last week indicating that it was stopping the manufacture of mass produced Pentax and GR cameras at the end of the quarter. The rest of the release indicated they would attempt a more bespoke model, with workshops customizing cameras to individuals. Today, Ricoh published a new statement indicating that it would continue to make cameras in factories, but that the Japanese market would see the workshop model become a primary sales channel, with other sales going direct through Ricoh.
Ricoh may have naively thought that the initial release would be taken with a positive spin, likening themselves to workbench-oriented manufacturers like Leica versus setting off the inevitable Pentax Deathwatch that actually occurred. It is difficult to determine whether the negative reaction seen around the world surprised them because they either:
- They intended to announce a simple, regional organization change, but now discover that their release is interpreted as admitting market failure;
- They previously expected that their announcement would spin factory closures as a deliberate strategic choice, allowing them some additional months to sell the assets and intellectual property.
In any case, the management of the communications is unlikely to endear the camera division further to the Ricoh parent company – which has already been on a tear to shed unprofitable and non-core assets.