Chinese injection press maker Ningbo Haitian Group Ltd. said it will open a sales and support center in Vietnam to boost sales in Southeast Asia. The center is one of six the firm plans around the world.
Haitian needs the center to support its push into more energy-efficient and other higher-end machines such as its Mars series, said Helmar Franz, executive vice president. Sophisticated machines require a dedicated service staff nearby, he said.
The company, based in Ningbo, is filing paperwork and hopes to open the Vietnam center, in Ho Chi Minh City, with five or six engineers, he said.
Haitian chose Vietnam because the market is growing and the country is easy for Chinese people to adapt to, Franz said at the ASEANPlas trade show, held May 26-29 in Singapore.
The company - which is the largest injection press maker in the world, measured by number of machines - already has support centers in Brazil, Europe, the United States and Turkey and is looking for a location in Africa.
Franz did not break out sales for Southeast Asian countries, but said some of those countries, such as Vietnam and Thailand, appear poised to benefit from rising costs in China's heavy manufacturing zones along the coast.
``If you only look to cost, I am not sure that China is the cheapest place anymore,'' he said.
Franz said the company has yet to see any negative impact from the U.S. economic slowdown from its customers exporting their products to America. That has been somewhat of a surprise, he said.
``At this moment, theoretically, we should be affected - but practically speaking we are not,'' he said. ``Of course, we are concerned if it keeps developing this way, we could be hurt.''
In its March 25 earnings statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the company said 2007 sales and profit both grew more than 20 percent over 2006.
Franz said the company cannot keep pace with sales of its smaller-model Mars energy-efficient machines. Haitian is increasing capacity for those machines, he said.