Nikon sets up separate $10M imaging business

Camera giant Nikon is coming out from behind the lens to bolster its imaging business in China, the company said on Wednesday.

The company said it has established Nikon Imaging Sales Co. in Shanghai as a wholly owned Nikon subsidiary. The company--worth an estimated $10 million--will focus on Nikon's import and wholesale imaging products such as its pocket-size Coolpix brand and its larger-size SLR cousins.

Nikon, which regularly dukes it out with Canon for the top spot in the digital camera world, said it is aiming for first-year sales of $92 million and third-year sales $303 million.

China could be a fertile growth area for Nikon. The country's digital-camera market is primed to hit 6.5 million units shipped in 2008 compared to the 2.32 million units sent out in 2004, according to IDC estimates.

Even though China is home to more than 1.3 billion people, most can't afford digital cameras. However, analysts suggest there is an untapped market of about 400 million people living in metro areas such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The subsidiary began operations this month with an initial staff of 50. Nikon said it will expand that to 120 employees by this time next year.

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