Samsung, Panasonic hike prices of imported TV sets after duty hike

KOLKATA: A month after the government increased import duties on LED television panels and TV sets imported in the completely-built unit (CBU) format, television makers Samsung and Panasonic have increased prices by up to 6%, with prices going up anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 2,000, depending on screen sizes.

Even online exclusive or focused brands such as BPL, Sanyo and Kodak, which mostly import television sets, have raised prices that will reflect by this weekend to a month as new inventory hits ecommerce marketplaces. Kodak, for instance, has increased prices by an average of 10%, while BPL will be doing so by 5-6%, as will Sanyo.

“With the increase in taxation, we had no option but to pass on the price hike to consumers even though this is likely to have a severe impact on demand,” said Panasonic India CEO Manish Sharma. He said the company has increased prices by 3-6% with the maximum increase on large-screen models. Television sales in the country was flat last year.

The country’s largest television maker Samsung has increased prices by 2-3% for top-selling models while not tinkering with the prices of models that are soon going to be phased out. An email sent to Samsung India did not elicit any response till press time.

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Retailers said the brands had initially reduced discounts to tackle the situation, but have now decided to raise prices. “While discounting has reduced for televisions since last week, manufacturers are trying to push for a price hike by marginally increasing prices of popular models. However, most of the large-screen sizes are yet to see any price hike as the line-up is now going to be rolled over with new models,” said Pulkit Baid, director at Great Eastern, which has 50 stores across east and north India.

The government has increased duty on television sets imported in CBU format to 20%, while the duty on LED television panels has been increased to 15% for those imported in ready to assemble state, while on open cell TV panels it has imposed fresh duties of 10%. The open cell panels need to be finally assembled in India, which is the route that Samsung, LG and Panasonic have been adopting for the past two months.

Two senior industry executives said Sony has increased prices for one entry-level model and will go for a 3-4% hike across the line later this month. Sony India television business head Sachin Rai said the company has not yet increased prices of any models, but said a price rise is likely on the cards.

BPL COO Manmohan Ganesh said the government’s increase in taxation on panels and components is discouraging for making in India, and the company has plans to start assembling the sets in India. Sharma of Panasonic, who also leads the consumer electronics industry body, said the industry has made recommendation to the ministries of finance, electronics and IT to roll back the duty on open-cell television panels. “In the current scenario, the Make in India plan will get hampered since some imports, including from China, may become cheaper than assembling in the country,” he said. economictimes