Sharp Electronics is pulling out of the UK laptop computer business for a second time, following its failure to acquire substantial market share.
The manufacturer said it intended to sell off its existing range of notebooks and turn all its attention to smaller personal digital assistant-type (PDA) machines. It was felt the company's higher profile in consumer electronics suited this need better. Sharp has a stronger hold in the PDA sector than it has in the laptop market, and is up against the likes of Philips and Hewlett Packard for the handheld top position.
Industry insiders are pointing at disappointing sales figures as the reason for Sharp's retreat.
Brian Green, PC business manager at Interface Systems International, which distributes for both Sharp and Toshiba, said: 'It is put into perspective when you compare Toshiba's sales in the last month alone, with Sharp's sales over the last quarter.'
According to Green, Toshiba sold some 30,000 laptops in the UK in February.
Sharp, however, only sold 70,000, globally, in the three months to 31 December 1997.
The Japanese giant has withdrawn from the notebook market before, originally announcing its decision to pull out in 1991.
At the time, the manufacturer was caught with excess stocks of heavier machines just as the industry was moving to slimline, lighter models.
The company re-entered the UK laptop market in 1996, on the back of a survey it had commissioned. Sharp claimed it would hit the UK number four spot by the end of this year.
Sharp refused to comment on why it had pulled out of the market. It is not known whether Sharp will sell off excess stock through discount outlets, as it had done last time.
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