Solvay EP on expansion drive in SEA; contemplates facility set-up

Solvay Engineering Plastics (EP), which has been present commercially in the ASEAN countries for many years, with activities undertaken exclusively through distribution channels, is expanding its presence in the region.

According to Frank Laganier, Asia-Pacific Director for Solvay EP, speaking to PRA during the Plastindia exhibition in Gandhinagar, the company is strengthening its presence “specifically in Indonesia, Thailand and to a lesser extent Malaysia and Singapore as we see strong growth potential in those countries (especially in the former two).”

The company’s deployment plan includes three major initiatives: setting up local Solvay commercial offices/sales teams; strengthening its distribution coverage with additional partners as well as added capabilities (new warehouses, logistics solutions, additional sales and technical team) as well as studying the feasibility of setting up a compounding plant.

Laganier said, “We have already started in Indonesia where a Solvay office in Jakarta was inaugurated at the end of last year, and where we have put in place our commercial team. This will ensure closer contact with our main global customers present in the country as well as better support and interaction with our distributors. In Thailand, where we already have a Solvay office, we are recruiting a team of sales persons as well as customer technical support engineers (the latter having a mission to support our customers in the area for any technical support, ranging from product selection to customer training to troubleshooting).”

As for setting up a compounding facility, Laganiersays, “At this stage no decision has been made but we are seriously contemplating investing in local manufacturing to be closer to our customers and improve our ability to provide quick response to their requests.”

In addition, considering the large number of Japanese companies active in the region (especially in Thailand and Indonesia), Laganier adds that Solvay has built up its presence in Japan (where it already has offices and a technical centre) “to be able to support them both locally in Japan and overseas in Southeast Asia.”

Meanwhile, when asked about the sales growth of Solvay EP, 40% of Solvay EP’s worldwide sales is in the overall APAC [Asia-Pacific] region (up 2% from 38% the previous year), thereby reflecting the increasing importance of APAC for Solvay EP. Laganier expects double digit growth in Southeast Asia in 2015, in spite of the global economy slowdown.

“While growth in Thailand took a step back in 2014 (both due to the unrest at the beginning of the year and - more significantly - the end of incentives for car purchases) we, expect a strong recovery in Thailand this year. We also expect continuous growth in Indonesia and additional sales in Malaysia. This will continue to be driven by the car production growth and increased use of PA (polyamide) plastic material in each car, but also by more demand from the two-wheeler industry in Indonesia and from electric protection and appliances manufacturers.”

As for which specific product groups in EP’s portfolio are expected to push the growth in Southeast Asia, Laganier says, “We have similar expectations in Southeast Asia as we do in other countries in Asia, i.e. to be able to provide high performance PA solutions to the market to foster metal replacement and UL certified flame retardant materials (supported by our UL certified lab in Shanghai).”

He also went on to say that a specific focus will be on the company‘sTechnyl range of products, with an emphasis of high glass fibre-reinforced polyamide grades for metal replacement, and the recently introduced Technyl One material for high temperature and high flow requirements.

“This will be supported by our application labs in APAC (Shanghai and Seoul) with in particular the use of our predictive simulation software - MMI - that enables quick and reliable design and performance validation for new plastic parts.”

In summary, Laganier says that Solvay EP sees a lack of truly global companies firmly committed to Southeast Asia. “We intend to demonstrate Solvay EP’s dedication to support the development of our existing and new customers in this region. This will determine the decisions we make and the products and services we introduce in Southeast Asia.”


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