From left: Mr Zhao, Mr Kimura, Mr Ishiwatari, Toshiba adviser Kobkarn Wattanavarangkul and Toshiba Thailand chairwoman Kanit Muangkrachang.
Toshiba Lifestyle Products Services Corporation, which was sold by embattled parent company Toshiba to China’s Midea Group last year, plans to set up an international headquarters (IHQ) in Thailand next month in a bid to raise its competitiveness and global sales.
President Toshiro Ishiwatari said during his visit to Thailand yesterday that the company has already received approval from the Thai government to set up its first international headquarters outside of Japan.
Its IHQ will be located at Bangkadi Industrial Park in Pathum Thani.
“Thailand is a very important country in the Asean market,” Mr Ishiwatari said. “We’ve chosen Thailand as the locus to accelerate our global expansion, because we’ve had Toshiba factories for refrigerators and washing machines here for three decades. Moreover, the Thai government is inviting foreign investors to set up their headquarters here.”
Mr Ishiwatari said a plan to establish Toshiba’s IHQ took shape after Midea Group, China’s largest maker of electrical appliances, acquired Toshiba Lifestyle Products and Services last year. Midea has 18 factories in China and 15 factories overseas.
He said Toshiba’s IHQ will function as a centre to handle the management of production, marketing and sales of Toshiba, particularly in Asia, with a focus on Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Middle East.
“This hub will help strengthen our global business because we will make products that match customer demand in each region,” Mr Ishiwatari said. “It will hopefully boost the sales contribution of Toshiba lifestyle products and services in Asia and the Middle East to reach 50% of the total over the next three years, up from 30% last year.”
Of the 30% contribution, 25% came from Asia.
“Asia is a very promising market with huge potential to grow,” Mr Ishiwatari said. “Though the situation in the Middle East is quite uncertain, we see opportunities for Toshiba to develop strong brand awareness there.”
Apart from the IHQ, the company also plans to increase production capacity for several Toshiba products in Thailand, though no details were forthcoming.
Masaaki Kimura, president of Toshiba Thailand, the distributor and marketer of Toshiba electrical appliance products here, said appliance sales are expected to be on a par with last year’s level because of declining demand for air conditioners and TV sets.
“We are upbeat that our sales will resume double-digit growth next year, as we have seen a gradual recovery in the economy, driven by growing tourism and exports,” Mr Kimura said.
Thailand’s electrical home appliance market, valued at US$ 1.6 billion (52 billion baht) in 2016, is expected to grow by 5% next year, he said.
Brian Zhao, Toshiba Thailand’s vice-president for marketing and sales of home appliances, said the firm aims to become a top-three home appliance brand in Thailand over the next three years.
The company will allocate 12% of its revenue to promote its products to achieve that end, he said.