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Panasonic’s Silent Exit from South Africa: What Happened to the Global Tech Giant?

Panasonic, once a prominent player in South Africa’s electronics market, has quietly withdrawn its products and operations from the country. Despite a high-profile relaunch and significant marketing campaigns, including partnerships with local celebrities, the tech giant has all but vanished, leaving questions about its abrupt exit unanswered. Panasonic’s Silent Exit from South Africa: What Happened to the Global Tech Giant?

In a surprising and silent retreat, global electronics giant Panasonic has withdrawn from the South African market, leaving behind a trail of unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises. This move marks a significant shift for the company, which once celebrated its return to South Africa with great fanfare and substantial marketing efforts.

A Promising Start and a Sudden Silence

Panasonic made a grand re-entry into the South African market in April 2015, bringing its full range of products, from TVs and home audio systems to washing machines and fridges. The company’s relaunch was marked by an enthusiastic marketing campaign and strategic partnerships aimed at capturing the hearts and minds of South African consumers.

In 2018, Panasonic partnered with Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, making him a brand ambassador and launching the “You can be the light” project. This initiative aimed to donate 10,000 solar lanterns to the Nelson Mandela Foundation for distribution to needy families. The same year, Panasonic opened a new office in Century City, Cape Town, featuring a “Life Experience Center” showroom, with Kolisi and former Western Cape Premier Helen Zille attending the event.

However, the enthusiasm was short-lived. By 2020, as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, Panasonic quietly began its retreat from South Africa. The company failed to file its annual returns and pay CIPC fees in 2019, 2020, and 2021. This lack of compliance almost led to deregistration in June 2021, but the outstanding returns were eventually filed, and fees were paid by November 2022.

Financial Decline and Global Strategy Shifts

Panasonic’s company records reflect a sharp decline in turnover, from over R25 million in 2019 and 2020 to less than R1 million in subsequent years. This financial downturn aligns with Panasonic’s broader strategy changes, including the global discontinuation of certain product categories.

In 2021, Panasonic closed its business communications division, ceasing production of PBX, SIP, and scanner products. This move impacted Huge Group’s subsidiary, Pansmart, which had been importing and distributing Panasonic telecommunications equipment in South Africa. Consequently, Pansmart underwent a management overhaul and rebranding to Huge Distribution, now importing and distributing NEC products instead.

Current Market Presence and Consumer Impact

Despite Panasonic’s official exit, some of its products remain available online and through select retailers. Platforms like Takealot and Makro list Panasonic components and appliances, though these are likely remnants of old stock. Masons in Johannesburg, for example, still sells Panasonic TVs but confirms that these are clearance items from when Panasonic decided to exit South Africa.

Imran Aziz, managing director of Masons, stated, “Panasonic haven’t traded in South Africa for the last 2–3 years. The items listed on our website are products that we cleared from Panasonic when they decided to exit SA.”

While Panasonic has ceased trading in South Africa, service agents for its products still operate in the country, ensuring that existing customers can maintain their devices.

Leadership and Future Prospects

Daizo Ito, who spearheaded Panasonic’s re-entry into South Africa and various marketing campaigns, was promoted to executive vice president in charge of Panasonic’s overseas business in February 2022. Despite repeated attempts, Panasonic has not provided an official comment on its withdrawal from the South African market.


Panasonic’s quiet departure from South Africa raises important questions about the company’s strategic direction and commitment to international markets. While the tech giant continues to thrive in other regions, its sudden exit from South Africa leaves a gap in the local market and a legacy of unfulfilled potential. As consumers and retailers adapt to this change, the lingering presence of Panasonic products serves as a reminder of what once was a promising venture in the South African electronics landscape.

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