Nikon: Beaten but Not Bowed


2011 was not Nikon’s year. The camera company suffered massive losses in the year; first when their factory in Sendai was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and secondly when the floods in Thailand swamped their factories.

On March 11th a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan, one of the five most powerful earthquakes ever measured. The Sendai factory, which made Nikon’s flagship cameras like the D3 and D700, was forced to close after it suffered extensive damage to equipment and buildings. Even after it resumed operations at the end of March 2011, Nikon could not guarantee a return to full production because of Japan’s planned blackouts to conserve energy.

On October 2011, floods caused by torrential rainfall in central Thailand engulfed Nikon’s factories in Ayutthaya province. The first floors of all buildings were submerged. The factories were responsible for Nikon DSLR cameras as well as the Nikon 1 cameras and only resumed partial operations in January 2012. Nikon estimated a net sales loss of 65 billion yen and an operation income loss of 25 billion due to sales opportunity loss, as well as 10,904 million yen losses on assets and inventories due to the floods.

Nikon has been beaten but not bowed. Their Sendai factory has resumed full operations (at a cost of 1 billion yen), and their factories in Thailand should be back in action by March of 2012. Nikon has launched their new flagship cameras the D4 and D800 in early 2012, cameras which (according to rumour) were supposed to have been released the year before, but were delayed due to the factories being shut down.

Besides the new flagship cameras, it might surprise you to know that Nikon’s professional 35mm film DSLR camera, the F6, is still being manufactured at Sendai. Around 50 units of the seven year-old camera are made per month.

It’s an extraordinary recovery for a company which has sustained extraordinary losses. Nikon is not only coming back strong, it’s coming out swinging, and Nikon has stated that the D4 and D800 will not be the only DSLR cameras released in 2012, so expect more ahead from the company.

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