Camera retailers hurt by disaster

CEANA PRIEST
Last updated 08:50 30/05/2011

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 Camera retailers face delays of up to four months for stock after the Japanese earthquake damaged supply factories. Wholesalers warn there is no respite on the horizon.

It is another blow for the industry, which has limped through the recession and was relying on a much-needed cash injection from the release of new models. The owner of Hamilton retailer Snapshop Cameras, Graham Boswell, said it was tough to turn away sales during the recession. "It brings home how vast the Japanese tragedy has been and the repercussions for everyone," he said.

"It is just the unknown ... the waiting for stock now." He said popular models affected included Canon's EOS 5D and 60D, and Nikon's D700.

Wholesalers had told him there could be another two-month wait for supply as stock allocated for New Zealand dwindled.

"Every country is fighting for stock at the moment and I guess New Zealand gets the last pickings due to our size, on per centage basis," he said. "Occasionally there have been outages ... but we have never experienced this in retail before to this magnitude."

Because suppliers had reduced stockpiles during the recession and supplied to order, the repercussions were felt quickly in New Zealand. The distributor for Nikon in New Zealand, T A Macalister, confirmed its high-end product range had been affected. A damaged supply factory near Sendai, one of the worst-hit cities, was operating on reduced capacity, Nikon product manager Ken Newell said. "Although ramping up has already happened ... some of our suppliers have reduced capacity and that has affected some of our range. It is an ongoing problem. We think we may of seen the worst of it, but we don't know until it has been confirmed."

Last month, Canon announced the quake and subsequent tsunami would impact supply across its entire camera portfolio, including cameras, videos, lenses and parts for camera repairs. Canon expected shortages would continue until mid-year, and potentially into the third quarter of this year. Supplies had been hit by rolling blackouts in factories and difficulty in securing raw materials, parts and other supplies. A Canon spokesperson was unavailable for comment this morning.

The March quake triggered a tsunami that devastated Japan's northeastern coast, and travelled inland nearly 10 kilometres. The tsunami death toll reached 15,000, with 9000 people still missing.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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