Survey says Olympus is failing; Local business leader disagrees

Posted: 10:02 PM EST Dec 04, 2013   Updated: 6:34 AM EST Dec 05, 2013

A money website says the financial picture for a locally-based camera maker is blurry. The site put Olympus on its list of brands that could disappear in the new year.

Japanese camera maker Olympus moved its North and South American headquarters to Upper Saucon Township in 2006. But now the website '24/7 Wall Street' says the company's digital cameras will disappear from store shelves by the end of 2014.

"We don't even need to think hypothetically about Olympus not being here," explained Don Cunningham, CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.

He doesn't buy the website's prediction. Every year '24/7 Wall Street' identifies 10 well-known brands sold in America, it says will be gone in 18 months.

Olympus ranked 6th on the list for 2014 because the company has failed to generate a profit from its imaging business for the past three years, and the brand expects compact camera sales to drop by about 2.4-million units worldwide in the next fiscal year.

The site says smartphones are a major reason for the declining sales of point-and-shoot digital cameras, phones increasingly have the ability to capture high quality images.

"While camera purchases may be declining, Olympus has been very innovative about getting into other fields, particularly medical technology fields," said Cunningham.

An Olympus spokesperson says the diverse company adapts its product lines to market realities. Only 14% of its global sales are in consumer products, while 69% comes from medical.

"We live in this technological age where everything is changing. It used to be 3, 4, 5 years, now they change almost every month," Cunningham added. "The key for companies to succeed is to adapt."

Cunningham says '24/7 Wall Street' focused on the wrong aspect of Olympus, and the company is staying in the picture.

"We're very confident that they will remain and thrive here in the Lehigh Valley in a multitude of different markets," he smiled.