Fewer industries face the competitive pressures that major camera manufacturers face in the age of the smartphone, many of which have amazingly capable devices baked-in to the device itself.
In the face of global declines in demand, Leica AG has turned in a healthy set of revenue figures for fiscal year 2016/2017, going against the grain in a worldwide trend that has seen margins increasingly shrink for camera manufacturers as smartphones displace much of the low-end market.
Revenue for Leica AG has grown 6% while overall global demand for cameras has shrunk by an estimated 10% according to DP Review.
Leica executives credit a top-down realignment of the company’s business and distribution strategy with the changes in revenue growth, having moved about 90% of the camera’s retail distribution in-house to total about 90 Leica-branded stores worldwide.
The international engine driving Leica’s growth is the Chinese market where the German company is planning on opening at least 20 new retail storefronts over the next year to meet domestic demand there.
Toward this end, Leica will deepen its strategic relationship with Chinese smartphone maker and electronics giant Huawei as well as expand its Leica Akademie program of outreach to youth to get them interested in cameras and photography.
Leica CEO Matthias Harsch predicts continued, even record-setting growth for 2017/2018, owing in part to the increased importance of Leica’s eyewear brand, a division completely unrelated to photography but essential to the company’s future revenue growth.
From the company’s press release: “The entry of Leica into the eyewear segment (glasses) – a move that was completed in 2017 – offers further potential for strong revenue growth in the years ahead. Operating under the name of Leica Eyecare, the company will systematically tap into this global market in conjunction with its technology partner Novacel.”
One way or the other, Leica’s plans on making money off of your eyes will continue unabated as the German company plots its future course.