COVID-19 INFORMATION What you need to know about the coronavirus if you are living in Japan or planning a visit.
business

Sharp asks all employees to buy its products

41 Comments

Sharp, currently implementing management reconstruction measures, has asked all of its employees to set a target amount for purchasing the company's products.

The company has asked board members and executive officers to spend 200,000 yen on Sharp products; 100,000 yen for employees in management positions, and 50,000 yen for all other employees, according to a Sankei Shimbun report.

Furthermore, employees can buy TVs and refrigerators for a special price and get 2% of the total purchase price reimbursed. This program lasts until Jan 29, 2016.

Although Sharp says it is not mandatory for employees to comply with the request, the move has been criticized by media observers because employees have to make their purchases through a specific website, so the company can see who buys what.

Yoshisuke Hasegawa, a senior executive director, wrote in an internal document to employees, and which was leaked to Japanese media: "Please help us get through this difficult situations."

Sharp on Oct 31 posted a whopping six-month net loss of 83.6 billion yen, hit by restructuring costs and a slump in demand for its smartphone screens. Sharp posted the loss in the half-year through September, down from a small profit a year earlier, while revenue fell 3.6% to 1.28 trillion yen.

The liquid-crystal display giant, which is key supplier to Apple and other mobile phone makers, singled out a downturn in smartphone-screen demand in China for its latest set of poor results.

Earlier this year, Sharp said it was cutting 10% of its 49,000 global workforce as part of a turnaround plan intended to keep it afloat.

Sharp earlier announced the sale of the building that houses its Osaka headquarters and issued shares to its banks, in an apparent lifeline that underscored the company's desperate situation.

The once-mighty firm, like rivals Sony and Panasonic, has been working to move past years of gaping deficits, partly caused by steep losses in its television unit.

The trio were hammered by competition from lower-cost rivals, particularly from South Korea and Taiwan.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

41 Comments
Login to comment

really? is this NK or what?

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Yet another Japanese elcteonics firm bites the dust! They must be extremely desperate if they have to get the employees to buy their goods. The company should be giving employees TVs and other electronics to make them stay at the company. You can bet that, most of the employees are already looking for alternative employment.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Suggesting the employes buy stuff is one thing, laying out specific targets (50,000 yen? 100,000 yen, seriously??) and then funneling them through a custom website so they can track and see exactly who has been doing what they were asked....is yet another ball game entirely. And a truly shameful one at that - which, unfortunately, surprises me very little.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Doesn't sound like a purchase demand to me (sarcasm level 9).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The trio were hammered by competition from lower-cost rivals, particularly from South Korea and Taiwan.

And by their hubris and inability to adapt to changing markets.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I didn't think this was anything new. My wife's friend has worked for Sharp for a long time, and time and again, they were asked(forced) to buy Sharp products. Perhaps, the twist is the fact that they must purchase it through a web site that can be tracked by the company.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Uh, all Japanese consumer electronic and white goods company employees have always been expected to purchase the lastest products. This has been going on for as long as the companies have been in business and is not a surprise to anyone who has even the most basic knowledge of Japan...

3 ( +8 / -4 )

Nothing new here. Sanyo, Pioneer, Fujitsu, NEC and the rest have always 'encouraged' employees, their families and friends to buy their own products, and rated their efforts. Used to be the price employees would pay for their 'lifetime' employment, bonuses and benefits, many of which have gone the way of the dodo.

1 ( +4 / -4 )

This is surely one of the most pathetic things I've heard from a company. What an absolute disgrace

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I thought Japan built its success on free market principles not Marxism !

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

In the past, they didn't have to ask.

One of my adult students who worked for Hitachi had Hitachi everything and added that if Hitachi made a car, he'd buy it, too. Why? Pride of workplace was his main answer; pride in the products was his other. He 'knew' they were superior to any alternative. And who knows, maybe he was right. Back then.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Every Japanese company does this, most notably Panasonic and the phone carriers. I have friends who work for all sorts of companies, of course, and if they are caught owning another company's products within the field they work they basically get forced into quitting, despite that being illegal. One friend who works at Docomo desperately wanted an iPhone when Docomo first refused Apple and only Softbank sold them for a couple of years, but couldn't get one. In fact, his daugther DID and he got in big trouble for it when someone told the company. People at Panasonic are even forced, indirectly perhaps, to vote for the Minshuutou. It's ridiculous.

What this basically means is that Sharp, if they are still giving bonuses, will likely change the bonus from cash given or wired to accounts with the regular pay into gift certificates towards purchase of Sharp products. Or, on top of cutting bonuses, will require them to buy stuff from their pay. And this ending in January means they have to do it within the next few weeks -- for Christmas.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Just one more reason NOT to work for a Japanese company.

4 ( +7 / -5 )

Blackmail pure and simple. My ex used to work at a Hotel chain who would ask their staff to pay up the extra rooms. Mind you these are poorly paid staffers and receptionists not the people who are actually making money.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

@dcog9065"What an absolute disgrace".

Why ? I like products of Sharp. Good quality.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Despicable. I really dislike the Big Brother approach that these conglomerates take toward their employees, controlling them 365 days a year, 'subtly' pressuring employees not to take vacation time accrued, and now in Sharp's case even monitoring their spending online.

Any company that does this should be toward the top of the black company (ブラック企業) rankings.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

They can't sell their own products to the public, so they have to force their employees to buy them?

At a whopping TWO PERCENT discount?

Gosh!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I think I'll avoid Sharp if I have a choice. I'll remember this one. Goodbye guys. I cannot knowingly support incompetence bad management if I can avoid it.

4 ( +7 / -4 )

A friend working at a Japanese university said she is expected to pay to attend the graduation ceremony and to buy an album because she is on the student committee.

A strong union movement would be able to push back against these corporate scams.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Look at all these people here being upset on Sharp employees behalf! If this "3rd party outrage" wasn't so naive it'd be funny.

As mentioned above Japanese manufacturers have been doing this for decades upon decades, it's company culture. When the products are so good, why the need to feel outraged about something that isn't a requirement, just "expected"? Believe it or not, Sharp employees need appliances that Sharp just so happens to make.

-6 ( +4 / -9 )

Sharp, currently implementing management reconstruction measures, has asked all of its employees to set a target amount for purchasing the company’s products.

Although Sharp says it is not mandatory for employees to comply with the request, the move has been criticized by media observers because employees have to make their purchases through a specific website, so the company can see who buys what.

This is what Japan Inc. has been reduced to -- DESPARATION COMBINED WITH INTIMIDATION. Truly a tragic commentary on a country that once proudly bragged of "winning the peace", and was very publicly buying up prime real estate all over the world, including places like Pebble Beach. Now it is reduced into strong arming its own employees into buying their crap.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@yamashi

I like products of Sharp. Good quality.

Have you owned or experienced comparative products? For example, LG/Samsung LED TVs? Sharp isn't the only game in town... Japan Inc. just wants you to think that way, so they can maintain their captive market (a stable revenue stream) without having to do difficult things like innovate and spend more money on R&D. Or make any attempt to understand a customer base outside of Japan.

@Hillclimber

Believe it or not, Sharp employees need appliances that Sharp just so happens to make.

But Sharp isn't the only one who makes those appliances. Nor do they necessarily deliver the best quality at a given price point. Should consumers, including your employees, have the freedom to chose how they spend their money? If you make the best product the choice is easy.... I'm sure every Lexus engineer buys a Lexus if he can....he's knows how reliable they are. The product sells itself. But let's look at Sharp and its competition:

For example, Sharp makes 43" Aquos LED TVs. Amazon US price? $380. Amazon Japan price? Well, there are NO 42-43" TVs on Amazon Japan...but their 40-inch TVs are ¥63,000 or more.

LG makes 42" LED TVs (ref model: 42LF5600). Amazon US price? $400. Amazon Japan price? ¥121,318!!!!!

Gee, domestic protectionism, much? And Sharp still can't manage to sell enough product without forcing their employees to buy specific quantities of their own overpriced goods?

Yeah, Sharp totally deserves to fail as a business.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Every Japanese company does this, most notably Panasonic and the phone carriers. I have friends who work for all sorts of companies, of course, and if they are caught owning another company's products within the field they work they basically get forced into quitting,

Hey! as person working for internet media in Japan, isn't this kind of outrageous lie against your company's complience? or JT has no such thing like complience? It is very easy to check with panasonic and docomo if it is really the ways .

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This was coming. Before the iPhone & other smartphones, the big news was that (some 10?) Japanese companies were vying for customers in the 'small' and shrinking Japanese market. Japanese models could not be sold abroad due to the difference in technology. It would take 10 years, I read then, for these companies to redesign their phones. Then the smaho hit the market. That was the coup de grace for these companies. They're still competing for a piece of the Android market. Monkey see, monkey do. No individual thinking. It's in the box, or nothing. Now employees must pay...literally. Good luck. One would think a JV could do the job, save money, etc. Whatever.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sharp is now a pyramid scheme operation, forcing their employees to buy their products to earn their incomes.

The trio were hammered by competition from lower-cost rivals, particularly from South Korea and Taiwan.

Stop making excuses that so outdated. Labour costs in electronic sectors in South Korea are higher than Japan. More importantly, much of the stuff from both Japan and Korea are manufactured in China or South East Asia. But yeah, keep on holding onto that crutch of an excuse.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This move by Sharp seems over the top but I don't know how exclusively Japanese this kind of thing is. I remember seeing in the news some years back that workers at a Ford plant in the US were told they couldn't park in the company lot if they came to work in a non-Ford car. There was talk about how the company was in desperate straights and the workers needed to get with the program and buy only Ford if they wanted the company and their jobs to survive.

Also remember a relative who worked for a power company in the US in the 60s. He was, umm, strongly encouraged to switch to electric appliances, given discounts on them, and bowed to the pressure even though his old gas ones were still perfectly good and they really couldn't afford it. The wife was distraught, about the money, but also about having to learn to cook in a different way. She never did get to like the electric cooking and several years later they quietly switched back to gas cooking and water heating.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So, what if the employee does not buy enough or does not have enough money to buy? I surely would be pissed if my company force this down my throat and I would purposely go the other way around. Unless the workers are really loyal down to a mindless drone level, I do not see him/her will just listen to this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Hillclimber

When the products are so good, why the need to feel outraged about something that isn't a requirement, just "expected"? Believe it or not, Sharp employees need appliances that Sharp just so happens to make.

Because if the products were, in fact, so good then they'd be selling and not at a huge deficit.

Also, because, you know, democratic society? Freedom of choice?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I prefer Sharp's Smart TVs to those from their competitors … the fourth color gun is why. What is needed is tax credits from the Japanese government to help Sharp, Panasonic, Sony, and Toshiba to do the R&D they need to be ahead of those firms that don't. Because I'm fairly certain LG and Samsung have strong government support. That is hard to compete against.

I - for one - want to see "glasses-free" 3D TV from Toshiba.

As to those who are making enough, their company will loan them the cash/credits to buy. I would, it might the difference needed to keep my employer going.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Back in my teaching days I had an older student who worked at a kimono shop. If she didn't meet sales targets for the month she had to buy kimonos herself. She estimated that about half her salary went back to the company.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I have two Sharp TV units and they are great. I also have to Pencil Sharpeners.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

My family members worked for GM. They all had GM cars that they bought directly from GM. Same thing!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

qwertyjapanNOV. 24, 2015 - 05:33PM JST

Uh, all Japanese consumer electronic and white goods company employees have always been expected to purchase the lastest products. This has been going on for as long as the companies have been in business and is not a surprise to anyone who has even the most basic knowledge of Japan...

Yes indeed, this is nothing new - Japanese companies have been doing this for years, nothing wrong with it

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I wonder if Panasonic and Sharp will be around in 10 years.. Sony and Hitachi will still limp on. But I'm not sure about the other two.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Aly Rustom: In future I won't be surprised if some of these Japanese firms are bought over by some innovative US or European firms. And this will happen just before the cash rich Korean or Chinese firms bid for Japanese firms.

This has already been happening in last few years on many of the financial firms, big fish eating the small fish. Just the matter of time before other business sectors follow the same pursuit.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

And this is why Japan is up s*** creek! If a product is not selling it is because it is not wanted! Is that not common sense? To force employees into buying unwanted and overpriced stock when everyone else is buying different does little to stop the rot from setting in! If Japanese companies resort to these delaying tactics it only prolongs the inevitable....

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Goodbye Sharp.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

A foreign coworker of mine gave me his LG tv for free because he was going to buy a bigger one. I'd never heard of the brand but who says no to a free tv? Well, it broke in 2 months and I had to pay a 5000 yen "recycling fee" to get rid of it. After that I bought a sharp LCD tv. It's been doing great for 10 years (minus a few scratch marks thanks to my kids)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

garfield, that's exactly what I was thinking.

Maybe apple and google will buy them out to compete with the Chinese and Koreans on other electric appliances. But I can't see them surviving much longer.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That's what we call sharp practice.

PS Their kitchen appliances are pants.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is insulting is that these companies don't give much of a discount to their employees either. My friend worked for Toshiba, and it was the same. (with the "discount" it was still more expensive for the employees than to buy the same items at some discount electronics shops).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites