Japanese Vaio brand to re-enter Middle East sans ‘Sony’

Hong Kong-headquartered Nexstgo will be responsible for Vaio's entire business in the region

Vaio laptops return to Middle East in partnership with Nexstgo. Courtesy Nexstgo 
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The popular Vaio brand of laptops is set to make a reappearance in the Middle East after a hiatus of almost five years, but this time without a ‘Sony’ brand name.

Starting from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the Vaio Corporation brand will be offered to “high-end customers in the region”, said Alex Chung, chief executive of Nexstgo Company.

Nexstgo, a subsidiary of Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed electronics manufacturer Alco, is licenced to handle manufacturing, sales and marketing of Vaio laptops in the Middle East and Asia markets.

"We have entered [the] Middle East with three important markets this month … [Vaio] will also expand in [the] remaining countries in the region in the next couple of months," Mr Chung told The National.

“Our target audience will be high-end consumers and businesses looking for [the] best innovations and latest technology in the PC industry.”

Struggling Japanese technology manufacturer Sony sold off its personal computer business to investment firm Japan Industrial Partners in 2014 to concentrate on other, more lucrative business lines such as the Xperia smartphone brand.

The sell-off temporarily shrank the size of the Vaio business, as the new owner initially only sold laptops in Japan. And, after a 15-year presence in the Middle East, the Vaio brand gradually disappeared by the end of 2014. Slowly, though, Vaio laptops have been reintroduced into other, global markets.

“The company started its expansion from the US and Brazil in 2015 … with the introduction of [the] Middle East, Vaio products will be now available in 22 countries. Our intention is to be among the top brands in the region in the next three years,” said Mr Chung.

“We are the new chapter of Vaio, its future … with the regional launch, we aim to expand our distribution network and will work together with the company to rebuild its brand in the region.”

Mr Chung said the relaunch in the Middle East will increase the company’s overall revenue.

“We can see that [the] Middle East region has huge appetite for classy products, people are willing to spend money to buy premium goods. We predict a yearly increase of more than 30 per cent in the revenues of our mother company [Alco] through [the] Middle East business,” he said.

However, the market for PC sales currently remains difficult.

Nearly 35 million fewer PC devices — including desktops, laptops and tablets — will be shipped globally in 2023 than the 407 million sold last year, according to research firm Statista. That compares to more than 1 billion smartphones shipped last year.

In the Middle East and Africa, the PC market declined 13.4 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year to 4.9 million units, according to research firm International Data Corporation.

“Our strategy is to first reposition the Vaio brand and make investments in right areas,” said Mr Chung. “We know that market is tough but still there are buyers. Without wasting your time, you only need to reach that niche segment of customers.”

Founded in 2016, Nexstgo currently operates in 30 countries. The company said Vaio laptops will be soon rolled-out across all leading electronics stores in the region.