Unilever Thai Group of Companies, Thailand's largest fast-moving consumer goods firm, is to spend 2.8 billion baht on building facilities to support its growth.
Group chairman Bauke Rouwers notes the additional capacity from the new homecare liquid plant will mainly serve the domestic market, but some will be exported to Asean countries.
Group chairman Bauke Rouwers said it would open a new manufacturing plant for homecare liquid products costing 800 million baht in Bangkok's Min Buri district and a 2-billion-baht warehouse in Bang Nam Prieo district, Chachoengsao, east of Bangkok, by the end of this year.
The additional capacity from the new plant will mainly serve the domestic market, but some will be exported to Asean countries.
"The continuing huge investment represents our long-term commitment here and we are confident in the strong Thai economy with at least 3-4% growth. Thailand has become a middle-class country and unemployment is very low," Mr Rouwers said.
Unilever expects to realise positive effects from the minimum wage increase as many people have higher incomes.
However, the positive economic climate will attract several competitors to every product category where the company competes, he said.
Mr Rouwers believes Unilever's Thai operations will continue to grow at a double-digit rate this year, better than the industry's growth.
Wannipa Bhakdibutra, the company's vice-president for health and beauty products, said Unilever's operation enjoyed decade-high growth of 13% in 2012 with all of its 11 product categories performing better than the industry's growth. Sales of Sunsilk Post Wash, for instance, rose by 25%.
With various marketing development model (MDM) strategies, Clear Men's market penetration rate rose from 7% in 2011 to 9.9% last year, while that of Vaseline Men surged to 3.8% last year from 3.3%.
Combined sales increased by 25% in 2012, surpassing the male grooming market's 17% growth.
Supattra Paopiamsup, vice-president for homecare, food and ice-cream products, said the Knorr Jok brand's penetration rate increased from 30% in 2010 to 35% last year, helping to lift sales by 49% over the period.
The Wall's ice-cream brand had huge success in 2012 with 400% growth in sales, with the launch of a new Magnum bar stimulating more consumption among adults.
Per capita consumption of ice cream in Thailand is about 0.85 litres, compared with 9.01 litres in Singapore and 13.4 litres in Australia.
Unilever products will continuously expand if the company can assess demand in each category, Ms Wannipa said.Mr Rouwers said the company again expects to grow sales by double digits this year.
About the author
- Writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Position: Business Reporter