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TCL to Switch to Own Brand
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Launching a new branding strategy to reverse its losses, TCL, the sixth-largest Chinese electronics company, aims to give up using the Alcatel brand for its cellphone business and switch totally to its own brand in five years.


Liu Fei, CEO of Hong Kong-listed TCL Communication, said his company has set a goal for its brand strategy: to become the most healthy mobile phone brand in one year, the most competitive Chinese brand in three years, and switch from the Alcatel brand to the TCL brand in five years.


It's the first time the electronics company has given a timetable to give up the Alcatel brand since they formed a joint venture in 2004 and TCL was granted the right to use the French mobile phone brand.


"The purpose of TCL's new brand strategy is to provide a strong boost to our position in the home market and then progress on the road of globalization," said Liu.


TCL is the third-largest domestic mobile phone brand in China. The TCL brand is used in the domestic market while Alcatel is mainly targeted at overseas markets.


TCL sold 11.5 million mobile phones last year and 9.94 million units were sold outside China.


Many Chinese companies buy foreign firms and their brands to increase their international profile, but find it difficult to grow their own brands to the international level.


TCL released the new brand strategy on Monday night in Beijing, defining TCL as "the creative life", the first time in its 26 years of history that consumers were told what the abbreviation stands for.


"The new brand strategy is going to become the strategy for our company," said Li Dongsheng, chairman and CEO of TCL Group.


The brand strategy is seen in industry circles as a sign of transition from recovery to expansion.

TCL, which acquired Thomson's TV businesses and then Alcatel's handset businesses, has been in the red in the past two years because of difficulties in restructuring and failure to catch up with the global LCD TV trend.


In May, it applied to declare its European business insolvent, trying to shake off the financial burden. Li had said earlier that the aim this year was to achieve a turnaround. If it fails to do so, TCL Group, listed on the Shenzhen bourse, will be delisted for being in the red for three consecutive years.


(China Daily June 20, 2007)


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