THOUGH SOME multinational companies still wait and see to enter Myanmar, Hafele Ltd, a German company providing architectural hardware and electronic access control systems with presence in more than 150 countries, remains confident in the market, according to Thasaphong Eurnithilert, director of Hafele (Myanmar) Ltd.
Thasaphong said in an exclusive interview with The Nation that he foresees a more promising future in Myanmar after the nation’s general elections in 2020, presumably driven by potential inflows of foreign investment. Yet, he admitted the firm’s growth slowed down last year, driven by some stalled construction projects.
“Last year, a lot of our target project customers were on hold. For this year, we expect the growth at around 30 per cent. By the end of 2020, we plan to grow double of this year,” he said.
According to Thasaphong, high-end residential projects are expected to mainly drive the firm’s growth this year because a lot of developers widely use their products.
Hotels and tourism sector will continue to be part of Hafele’s growth while education, healthcare and information technology are expected to be among the promising sectors from 2019 onwards.
The executive seems pretty satisfied with Hafele’s growth in Myanmar. Since its establishment in 2013, the company enjoyed 100 per cent growth every year until it slowed down last year.
Thasaphong seems fully aware that the firm’s short-term target is not very aggressive but he foresees a promising future in the next few years.
“Our revenue is not that big because we do not do trading in Myanmar. But, we have excellent partners who are doing a very good job. They do marketing and distribution of our products so our brands become popular among our target customers,” he said.
According to Thasaphong, the firm targets medium to high class customers including corporates, hotels, residential and office buildings as well as end users.
It also strikes a good balance, as 50 per cent of the sales come from projects while the remaining half goes to retail, reaching out to end users.
“In Thailand, our products are widely used in thousands of projects. Here in Myanmar, we have very well-known projects -Novotel Hotel Max, SkyStar Hotel, Residence@26, to name a few. We also have some new projects that will open soon,” he said.
According to the executive, more than 22,000 products available in Myanmar are all imported from the neighbouring country Thailand where Hafele has a big presence with its regional office.
“We are willing to have a big scale like in Thailand where there are more than 1,500 staff. In Myanmar, we have only five local staff. We plan to hire more employees this year,” he said.
Currently, the firm has six major projects_ three in Yangon 3, two in Mandalay, and one in Mawlamyaing. Along with the growth of premium agents, two more projects are slated to open this year, including one in Taunggyi.
“We can import from Thailand very fast, and we can also import from Germany and other countries for construction projects which take time.
But, we are always looking at opportunities to expand our presence in Myanmar,” he said.
Thasaphong considers Yangon and Mandalay as the firm’s first priority but reiterated the plans to expand in populated cities such as Mawlamyaing and Taunggyi.
“Once we have a factory or warehouse, we can expand a lot. But, this is not the right time yet,” he said.