When the list of Chinaplas 2009 participants was released earlier this year, there were a number of regular exhibitors missing gaps assumed by most to be collateral damage of the financial crisis.
On the show floor, no absence was quite so noticeable as Bayer MaterialScience AG, based in Leverkusen, Germany.
In past years, Bayer's exhibit booth has been an attraction, with flashy displays and crowd-drawing entertainment like a break-dancing team and an all-plastic car.
This year, however, the company's absence was not due to a lack of resources, but rather a reshuffling of priorities, said Ranier Rettig, senior vice president of Asia Pacific for BMS' polycarbonates and advanced resins division. We wanted to use that money and put it into more tangible activities, Rettig said at a news conference during the May 18-21 trade show in Guangzhou. This is not due to financial constraints.
Although Rettig brushed off the impact of the economic crisis, BMS has had a tough year globally. In first-quarter 2009, the firm posted a 34.9 percent decline in net sales compared with the same period last year. The sales drop was attributed to weakening demand, particularly in BMS' polyurethane and polycarbonates business.
Everybody's feeling the crisis, Rettig said. But the market dynamics in Asia and in China are very adaptive.
He pointed out that despite sales drops in some BMS segments, other Bayer businesses were doing well, helping to offset the losses. The health-care business is good and crop science is also doing well, Rettig said.
In the meantime, BMS is taking time to get to know domestic companies in China better, particularly small and medium-sized companies that make up a large part of China's manufacturing. For example, BMS offered some clients an opportunity to enroll in a program at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai. Activities like this are now a priority, Rettig said.
BMS also is opening a number of color and design centers, the latest of which is soon to launch in Guangzhou. These centers are directed at small- and medium-sized clients, according to Rettig, and help help clients to innovate and tailor color and other attributes quickly, on a product-specific basis.
We are trying to promote more innovation and a more innovative approach, said Michelle Jou, vice president of BMS' China/Hong Kong polycarbonates division. In addition to the Guangzhou center, BMS also operates centers in Shanghai and Greater Noida, India.