You may never have heard of him, but Konosuke Matsushita may be more than a little upset to learn that the company he founded 71 years before his death in 1989 is to drop his surname and become Panasonic instead.

From October this year the Japanese giant will cease to be known as Matsushita and will instead apply its best-known brand name to the entire company.

National out too

The decision was originally announced in January and was formally approved at a shareholder meeting yesterday. Other names to disappear will include the once-popular 'National' label applied to home appliances and Matsushita shops in Japan.

From a humble beginning, selling a new electric light socket the same year the Great War ended, Matsushita's company now ranks among the top 100 companies of any kind worldwide.

Strong sales of mobile phones, televisions and DVD players lifted Panasonic's most recent quarterly profits by 160 per cent, while it is aiming for £1.5 billion in profit through the current financial year.