In recent years, financial reports from major camera manufacturers haven't typically made for overly positive news stories; however, Leica Camera AG is bucking this trend with the announcement of its results for the 2016/2017 financial year ending March 31st.
Apparently, the German camera maker has been able to grow revenue by 6 percent, despite the global camera market declining by around 10 percent over the same period.
Leica cites systematic realignment of the company over recent years as the main driver of the positive development.
At the heart of this realignment lies the establishment of an in-house retail distribution division that now controls a network of 90 monobrand stores around the globe. The company says this move has been vital in promoting the brand, and the retail network is set to expand even further in the near future. China is currently Leica's number one growth market, and 20 to 30 new stores are planned in the country alone.
Other important initiatives include the Leica Akademie brand—which aims to increase brand awareness among younger target groups—and the company's collaboration with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei on the cameras in their latest high-end devices.
The upward trend has reportedly continued into the 2017/2018 financial year, leading CEO of Leica Camera AG, Matthias Harsch, to predict record-breaking growth for this coming year.
Its important to note, however, that at least part of Leica's future growth will have nothing to do with photography. In 2017, the company entered into the eyewear segment under the Leica Eyecare brand, which Leica says will "systematically tap into this global market in conjunction with its technology partner Novacel. "
Leica Camera AG Records Strong Revenue Growth for the 2016/2017 Financial Year and Bucks the Downward Trend in the Camera Market
The Leica Camera Group achieved revenue of almost 400 million euros in the past financial year 2016/2017 (31 March 2017) and can therefore look back very positively on the previous twelve-month period. With strong revenue growth of more than six per cent, Leica bucked the overall downward trend in the global camera market, which declined by around 10 per cent in the same period.
In the first few months of the current financial year 2017/2018, cumulative growth stands at 15 per cent, thus underscoring the positive global performance of Leica Camera AG. Despite a market environment that remains challenging, the CEO of Leica Camera AG, Matthias Harsch, once again expects a record-breaking result for the 2017/2018 financial year. As a result, the revenue of Leica Camera AG has increased more than fourfold since anchor investor and majority shareholder Dr Andreas Kaufmann came on board in 2004.
The main driver of growth is the systematic realignment of the company that has taken place in recent years. In particular, the setting up of an in-house Retail Distribution division has made a major contribution to revenue growth. Leica now has 90 monobrand stores around the world, which are vital in terms of promoting brand experience in the context of photography. ‘China is our number-one growth market,’ says Matthias Harsch, who is planning 20 to 30 new stores in the country alone. The Group is now strengthening its presence in the service sector with the Leica Akademie brand in order to boost the appeal of photography amongst younger target groups.
The extremely successful technology and brand partnership with Chinese company Huawei in the field of mobile phone photography makes Leica one of the world’s leading providers of smartphone lens applications, a burgeoning technology segment that serves as a global basis for new product ideas and applications in photography.
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.