Unilever Thailand has earmarked Bt8 billion over three years to expand its infrastructure, including a new headquarters, warehouse and cold-storage facility.
"Our three-year investment plan, which will run from this year until 2016, will stimulate economic growth and improve Thais’ quality of life," chairwoman Supattra Paopiamsap said yesterday.
Supattra, who has been with the company for 22 years, was elected chairwoman this month as the first Thai woman to head the board of directors.
The expansion mode springs from the fast-moving consumer goods giant’s bullishness on the recovery of the domestic economy.
About Bt2.6 billion of the capital-expenditure budget will go to constructing the 18,000-square-metre headquarters on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bt2 billion to the warehouse in Chachoengsao’s Padriew district and Bt1.5 billion to the 35,000-square-metre ice-cream cold room in Samut Prakan.
About Bt1.2 billion will be used to expand its liquid-personal-care plant in Min Buri and Bt700 million to expand its food-processing plant in Chachoengsao’s Gateway City Industrial Estate.
"With our extensive presence in the country, our growth is certain to help the overall market develop, which will in turn have a favourable economic impact on our customers, our business allies, the national economy and of course ultimately Unilever Thailand," she said.
"The expansion will serve the potential growth of our domestic market and comply with the implementation of the Asean Economic Community next year," she said.
Asean markets take most of Unilever Thailand’s exports, which contribute about 20 per cent of sales. Unilever will continue to invest in Thailand to augment its status as a global production hub and the third-largest manufacturing site for the company in Asia, she said.
Unilever Thailand manufactures some 4.7 billion items of consumer goods every year at its eight plants. The company employs more than 4,000 workers here. In 1989, Supattra graduated with a Master of Business Administration degree from Georgia State University in the United States.
She started her career in market research at Assumption University in Thailand, where she was head of the Centre for Research in Business and also a lecturer on international market research before joining Unilever Thailand in 1992 as market research manager for hair and the innovation centre in Southeast Asia.
"I have well-rounded skills combined with science and art, which require creativity and imagination. I always find a new challenge every time I change my job," she said.
At Unilever, Supattra has been working in market research, media planning and buying for eight years, as well as in the marketing field for 14 years.
She has strong analytical skills as well as marketing and operating expertise. She has gained regional experience as vice president of Unilever Malaysia for its home and personal care business and as vice president for savoury products at Unilever’s Shanghai branch, looking after nine markets in Southeast Asia and Greater China.
"As the new chairwoman at Unilever Thailand, I have committed myself to maintaining its strong growth momentum, which will be at least two times faster than GDP," she said.
"I would like to build up speed and simplify the working process at a large business organisation like Unilever Thailand so that the company can capture all coming business opportunities and the rebounding of the Thai economy.
"I also would like to encourage young Thai executives to expand their talents and abilities abroad and grow their careers on the global stage."