Haier targets 30% sales leap with new products

Haier Electrical Appliances (Thailand) Co is expecting brisk sales this year thanks to a wider range of product launches including an LED TV and a premium air conditioner.

Wu: Haier not worried about wage increase

The Chinese-owned manufacturer and distributor is enjoying good growth in the Thai market, where its products have received more acceptance from consumers as international branded appliances.

Domestic sales this year are expected to improve to about 2.2 billion baht, a 30% rise from 1.7 billion baht last year. Sales rose 41% last year.

Export forecasts are also upbeat and should earn the firm 7.7 billion baht, 10% up from last year, according to managing director Wu Yong.

Mr Wu said the company achieved huge growth last year because many products received greater acceptance from customers after Haier's third year in Thailand.

Sales of freezers grew 60% while air conditioners rose more than 40%.

Several products were developed specially for Thai consumers.

However, export revenue was static last year because part of its export income came as an original equipment manufacturer for Sanyo appliances.

Haier will spend 500 million baht this year on developing new products and marketing, which could accelerate domestic and overseas sales.

It will launch the Haier Aqua Series air conditioner and a new LED TV with the aim to gain more market share.

The nationwide introduction of the daily minimum wage of 300 baht will increase the company's operating costs by 18%, but it will offset that by bringing in new technology and increasing efficiency.

Haier does not view the wage rise as a serious problem despite lower labour costs at its network in Vietnam and Indonesia.

"Thailand remains attractive for Haier to continue its investment here because the country still has advantages in many areas compared with other Asean countries, such as logistics, the supply chain and tax benefits between China and Thailand," said Mr Wu.

Exchange rates, the falling US dollar and the volatile world economy are bigger concerns for the 28-year-old company because they affect exports, which account for up to 70% of Haier's sales.

Mr Wu would like to see a more stable exchange rate of 31 baht against the dollar this year.

"Although we entered Thailand too late, it did not mean we had no opportunities," he said. "Success depends on whether your products can serve demand."

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Writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Position: Business Reporter