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Advanced Photo Systems seeks expansion into CLMV markets

ADVANCED PHOTO Systems Co, a local distributor and importer of Manfrotto camera bags and accessories, is approaching its suppliers for the right to expand its distribution network into the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) markets.

The proposed expansion aims to cash in on the coming Asean Economic Community (AEC), which will lead to a wider flow of people within the region and elimination of some trade barriers.

Product manager Kitthanes Assawathanasirikul said the company was studying the market potential as well as negotiating with potential partners in Laos and Vietnam on the possibility of appointing them as sub-distributors. The company's dealer also has a good connection with an entrepreneur in Myanmar.

"Our aim is to seek sub-distributors in particular CLMV markets for the expansion of our distribution network," Kitthanes said. "The only problem is that we do not have any conclusion regarding the tax barriers in re-exporting products from Thailand to those markets.

"We have been approached by a customer in Laos who wants to be our sub-distributor in that market."

Managing director Kittisak Assawathanasirikul said the company would not benefit much from the AEC. He said Thailand already had free-trade agreements with many countries in Asia, including China.

Many product vendors, such as those in Europe, have already set up production facilities in particular countries in Asia, to export and distribute them within the region to benefit from the FTAs.

Advanced Photo Systems has operated for 18 years as an importer of camera bags, tripods and accessories. The company currently distributes more than 20 brands of these camera-related goods. It has been the local distributor for Manfrotto, an Italian company, for 16 years. It has more than 300 dealers.

Kittisak said the company's sales dropped significantly, by more than 20 per cent, last year because of the political problems. Sales in the first six months of this year were 4 per cent below target.

However, with the rebound of the overall economy after the junta seized political power in May and conducted a major reform in many political and economic sectors, the company's sales have picked up. It expects total sales to reach between Bt80 million and Bt85 million this year, an increase of 10 per cent compared with last year.

Kittisak said the sales contribution from bags and accessories for professional cameras had declined gradually from between 20 and 30 per cent about three to five years ago to no higher than 5 per cent now. Also, about 70 per cent of sales are for camera-related products targeting "prosumers" - consumers who upgrade to professional products - and mirrorless cameras, and the rest for smartphone accessories.

According to a survey, about 21 per cent of smartphone users have become "prosumers".


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