TOKYO: Panasonic, the consumer electronics manufacturer, has announced plans to launch a new range of white goods in Europe, with some analysts arguing the Japanese firm's move into such a mature market represents a major risk during the downturn.

Electrical brands and retailers are predicted to face a challenging time in the downturn as consumers cut back on discretionary spending.

However, Panasonic has spent 18 months developing its new project, including redesigning its products so they are in line with European tastes, and hopes the low power consumption of many of its goods will appeal to the contintent's "green" consumers.

It will also establish a Lifestyle Research Centre in Germany to ensure it remains up-to-date on consumer trends across Europe. 

While the initial aims is to double current sales of €260m ($331m; £232m) in the next five years, Panasonic also intends to use the expansion as a springboard to move into Russia and the Middle East.

Hitoshi Otsuki, Panasonic's director of overseas operations, admitted "there is risk and we are ready for that", adding the company would consider its options if European operations are not profitable within three years.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff