Thai Union aiming to build 2nd R&D centre
New facility to focus on animal nutrition
SET-listed Thai Union Group Plc (TU), the world's biggest exporter of canned tuna, is considering a 1-billion-baht investment in a second research and development (R&D) house, says president and chief executive Thiraphong Chansiri.
The new R&D facility would focus on animal nutrition and create added value for seafood products, he said.
The plan is expected to be finalised by the end of this year, with R&D operations to start by 2018.
Mr Thiraphong said the second R&D unit will be five times bigger than its first one, which is located at Mahidol University's Faculty of Science on Rama VI Road.
Over the past four years, TU has acquired stakes in several leading seafood processing companies in Europe, North America and India to expand its customer base.
Now, the company is set to focus more on R&D.
"We are about to select the location to construct our new R&D house," Mr Thiraphong said. He declined to reveal the company's annual R&D budget.
TU opened its first R&D house in December 2014, with an eye to diversifying into cosmetics, supplements and pharmaceutical products.
The 600-million-baht R&D centre, called Global Innovation Incubation (GII), has already generated two patents for the company and is currently developing fish gelatin products.
GII, spanning 1,200 square metres at the university, is expected to help increase revenue by 10%, push gross profit up 25% and drive the internal rate of return to 35%, Mr Thiraphong said.
The plan to focus on R&D is part of the company's goal to raise revenue to US$8 billion (277 billion baht) by 2020, up from $3.7 billion last year. Revenue is expected to rise to $4.5 billion this year.
Mr Thiraphong said the company has set capital expenditure at 3.5 billion baht each year, excluding mergers and acquisitions.
Last month, TU acquired a majority stake in Canadian lobster processor Les Pecheries de Chez-Nous in a bid to boost its customer base in North America.
Details about the deal have not been disclosed.
Mr Thiraphong said TU is also looking at more acquisitions after scrapping a $1.5-billion deal to buy US-based Bumble Bee Seafoods in December 2015.
TU shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 20.60 baht, down 60 satang, in trade worth 927.9 million baht.