Sony Mobile chief denies handset exit rumours, as EMEA restructure sees senior managers depart

Sony Mobile CEO Hiroki Totoki assured managers the company is in the handset business for the long run, denying reports that the struggling company was mulling an exit.

Totoki told the general manager of Sony Mobile's Taiwan business in a meeting that reports the company would exit the handset market in 2016 if it continued to wrack up losses were not accurate, The China Post reported.

Indeed, the CEO suggested that Sony Mobile plans to ramp up its efforts with improved hardware and a heavy focus on extended battery life, the newspaper reported.

While the handset company's chief appeared bullish on its global future, Sony Mobile Europe is making major changes to its senior EMEA management.

In a statement sent to Mobile magazine, the company said it was reorganising its EMEA operation as part of a bid to boost profitability inline with a strategy announced by Totoki almost a year ago.

The company said it is reorganising its customer units into regional divisions, and assured the magazine that EMEA is an important part of the broader Sony Mobile business.

Senior executives Catherine Cherry, Sony Mobile's UK marketing director, and Nigel Whitehead, head of retail and distribution, MVNOs and Irish market, have left the company as part of the restructure, Mobile reported, noting that the handset company declined to say if the pair would be replaced.

Sony provided further guidance on its strategy for the devices business earlier this month, when it confirmed it would adopt a new operational structure to enable greater flexibility at its semiconductor, battery and storage media businesses.

The company is struggling to make an impact on a global smartphone market dominated by Samsung and Apple.

Sales at Sony's mobile business fell 16.3 per cent year-on-year in its fiscal first quarter 2015, which covers the three months to end-June, resulting in its operating loss growing from JPY1.6 billion (€11.9 million/$13.2 million) in fiscal first-quarter 2014 to JPY22.9 billion in the recent quarter.

Sony said the decline in sales was due to a strategic decision to abandon a bid for scale in the smartphone market -- a move that sees it focus more on high-tier units than mass-market devices. The higher operating loss was due to a combination of that decision and higher costs associated with the company's restructure, along with currency fluctuations.

For more:
- see this The China Post report
- read Mobile's article
- see Sony's device restructuring announcement
- view Sony's most recent earnings report (PDF)

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