GE Plastics is affirming the potential of China's plastics market by moving its Asian headquarters from Tokyo to Shanghai.
The move is to begin this month and be completed early next year, Pittsfield, Mass.-based GE Plastics said.
``Everything we do is driven by our desire to be close to our customers - figuratively and literally,'' Wayne Hewett, GE Plastics Asia Pacific president, said in a June 25 news release. ``With the rapid growth of our customer base in China ... moving our headquarters to Shanghai is an important strategic move for our business.''
GE Plastics currently employs 750 in China, where it operates compounding facilities in Nansha and Pudong. The firm has invested $30 million in the sites in the past two years and recently acquired Zhongshan Plastech Sunsheet Co. Ltd., a polycarbonate sheet maker in Zhongshan. Sales into the Asia-Pacific region account for about 25 percent of GE Plastics' overall sales. Through the first half of 2002, GE Plastics' Chinese order volume is up about 30 percent compared with the first half of 2001.
The firm also will open a new global research center in Shanghai next year. GE expects the center to employ 150.
In total, GE Plastics employs 1,400 in the Asia-Pacific region, where it also operates compounding plants in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and India. The headquarters move will affect about 40 employees.
GE Plastics, one of the world's largest makers of PC, ABS and other engineering plastics, is looking to rebound from a year in which sales dropped 10 percent and profit dropped 15 percent. The 2001 effect lapped over into the first quarter of 2002, as sales dropped 19 percent and profit plummeted 39 percent compared with the same quarter in 2001.
In the first quarter, GE Plastics accounted for 4 percent of sales and 8 percent of profit for its parent, General Electric Co.