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Toshiba upheaval continues as firm scraps EU country managers

Company veteran Andy Bass exits as deckchairs re-arranged

Executive veep for Toshiba's European PC and TV biz Andy Bass has split after 24 years' service following another major restructure.

Back in the spring of 2011, Toshiba stitched together its computing and TV businesses in a bid to make some cost savings, but the move didn't quite work out.

"We lost that crispness, that focus and dedication [to specific product lines], and what we lost was greater than what we'd gained," claimed Alan Thompson, president of Toshiba Europe.

He said it achieved "synergies" in areas such as spare parts, services, IT systems, finance, HR and some aspects of logistics – but at the expense of getting some kit to market later than it hoped. "We felt we were slow," he said.

Tosh has now created a separate consumer and business PC unit, as well as one for TVs, Thompson said, adding: "Now we are fixing the management layer."

There were five regional directors, including Bass. As well as being European veep, Bass headed up the UK, Ireland and Nordics operation. All of these positions have been axed.

Thompson said Bass had led the restructuring of the business in recent years and "significantly improved its financial health".

Under the new set-up, France and Italy boss Eric Cariou is to take charge of the B2B PC biz for Europe, Sandor van de Ham, who led central and south Europe ops is to run B2C, and Yasuhide Ozo will helm the TV business. The three will report directly to Tokyo.

Gert Holl, the head of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Benelux, and Joao Amoral, the Iberia boss at Toshiba, are to be integrated into the business, but this move remains in the planning stage.

In the UK, Neil Bramley will continue to manage B2B PC sales and David Kelly is set to take control of the B2C side.

IDC stats show Toshiba Europe's share of the PC market under Bass - minus tabs - actually rose in the last three years, accounting for 9.9 per cent last quarter compared to eight per cent in Q4 2010. But the overall market has been in continual decline during that period. TV sales were flat.

Closer to home, Tosh accounted for 1.4 per cent of total distie sales in the UK last quarter, Context data revealed, down from 2.2 per cent in the same period two years ago. This was lower than rivals Acer, Asus, Lenovo, HP, Samsung and even channel bully-boy Apple, all of which have a wider portfolio of technology.

Bass told The Channel the new structure had been under discussion for months and that he is "supporting the transition until the end of March" but was no longer part of daily operations.

Back in the noughties, Tosh owned around half of the notebook market but was superseded in the premium segment by IBM's Think range, and did not want to compete aggressively on price in the low-cost sector in the 2000s.

"We were so dominant in the 1990s but have lost so much ground to the big players since then," said Bass.

PC vendors have only got themselves to blame for a lack of innovation in the market, and most were caught napping as Apple launched the iPad, a point previously conceded by former HP PC grand fromage Eric Cador.

"Despite all the recent improvements the company's core markets are in serious decline and the margins are under constant pressure. The rise of the mega brands has felt like a David vs multiple Goliaths at times," said Bass. ®

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