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Bosch's Thai unit sees healthy recovery

Bucking the local market trend, Bosch, a global automotive and engineering company, expects to record another year of double-digit growth in Thailand this year.

Despite a sharp drop in the local automobile market and the slowing Thai economy, Joseph Hong, managing director of the German company's Thai unit, told The Nation last week that Bosch had seen a clear sign of recovery in its Thai sales during the last few months.

"Over the past few months, it's quite clear that we have achieved one of the best growth rates," he said.

Bosch's diversified portfolio of businesses and its expansion into

new businesses has helped the company weather the Thai economic storm.

While about two-thirds of Bosch's sales in Thailand are derived from automotive business, a large chunk of its automotive revenues also comes from the after-market segment.

The company recorded 16-per-cent growth last year, with total sales revenue reaching Bt10 billion.

These figures do not include sales of products imported directly to serve original-equipment manufacturing (OEM) customers here.

Hong said Bosch was "bullish and positive" about Thailand over the long term and would continue to invest and expand its businesses in the country.

Its new packaging technology and hydraulic-equipment businesses are ramping up quite well, although the company has witnessed positive trends in all product and service categories, he added.

Bosch considers the Asia-Pacific among its key markets, where it targets double-digit sales growth by 2020, while the company views the slowdown of the Thai economy and its automotive sector as a temporary correction, the MD said.

"I think it's just a temporary situation. Thailand remains a strategically important country for Bosch and we will continue to develop our business and extend our footprint," he stressed.

Bosch still runs its "business as usual" regardless of the coup that took place in May, he said, adding, "Our concern is whether we are able to operate our business in a stable environment. As long as the environment is there, for us it's business as usual."

Meanwhile, the local unit sees a big opportunity to expand its automotive-service network from the current 35 workshops around the country.

The Bosch service workshops provide "OEM-level service" to customers who are looking for an alternative service with a certain level of quality, said Hong.

Bosch has two automotive factories and one packaging technology plant in Thailand, with the latter supplying machinery for candy, biscuit and other food manufacturers.

The company also plans to introduce a record 50 new power-tool products to the domestic market by year's end.

Bosch plans to increase sales of its non-automotive products, but "not at the expense of its automotive sales", he said.

Currently, most output from its Thai plants is geared up for the domestic market, but with the Asean Economic Community set to be implemented next year, the company will look for wider opportunities where it makes sense to start export businesses, Hong said.

Bosch has manufacturing facilities in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, and has opened offices in Cambodia, Laos and most recently in Myanmar.

The German giant has four core businesses: automotive technology, industrial technology, energy and building technology, and consumer goods.


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