TOKYO (Reuters) - Apple Inc supplier Japan Display Inc said on Wednesday it would close two domestic liquid crystal display (LCD) production lines as it seeks to boost profitability and raise funds for next-generation technologies.
The company, which supplies screens for Apple’s iPhones, is also considering consolidating, including the partial sale of, its Chinese manufacturing subsidiaries.
In addition, it will introduce an early retirement programme for employees in Japan aged 45 and over, and will book an impairment loss of about 14 billion yen (87.2 million pounds) for the fiscal year through March from restructuring costs, it said in a statement.
The move comes after Apple in late January forecast its first revenue decline in 13 years and reported its slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments, raising concerns its period of exponential growth may be ending.
It also comes amid fears that domestic rival Sharp Corp may stage a comeback after its planned takeover by Taiwan’s Foxconn, which could provide the troubled electronics maker with ample funding and distribution power.
Japan Display, Sharp and South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd are currently the three major display suppliers for the iPhone.
“The consolidation is designed to stay profitable regardless of swings in the smartphone market,” a Japan Display official said, noting that the move was not prompted by any particular changes in the industry.
Japan Display has been investing in organic light emitting diode (OLED) technologies, in which South Korean rivals made an early move.
Japan Display said earlier this year that it would start mass production of OLED panels in 2018, the year media reports say Apple may begin adopting OLED technology for its iPhones.
($1 = 113.4200 yen)
Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Chris Gallagher