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Ichitan plans to expand world footprint

ICHITAN Group has set a five-year plan to become a branded player in Asean and raise its income from overseas operations to at least 30 per cent of the total, from nothing today.

Tan Passakornnatee, president and chief executive officer, said yesterday that the plan targeted annual international sales of Bt10 billion. 
Under the plan, Ichitan will become a professionally run institution with strong recruitment of younger professional people who are able to express innovative ideas for sales and marketing.
The company launched its OEM (original equipment manufacturing) beverage business this year with a focus on both local and international brands and the goal to account for 5-10 per cent of the group’s total revenue in the near future. 
Last August, Ichitan agreed with Sigmantara Alfindo and Mitsubishi Corp to form a joint venture, Ichitan Indonesia, to tap that country’s Bt73 billion ready-to-drink tea market, which is about double the carbonated-drinks market. 
The JV starts its sales and marketing operation in the third quarter of this year and targets sales of Bt1 billion in the first 12 months. 
The group will get operating feedback from the Indonesian market for one to three years before deciding whether to set up a plant in the country to produce beverages for the domestic market.
“We have also been looking at other markets such as Vietnam, a market with a huge population and high domestic spending, and the Philippines, as well as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar,” Tan said.
The group is preparing to cash in on the implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) at the end of this year by strengthening its facility at the Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya. 
Bt8-bn facility 
The Bt8-billion factory employs more than 200 people and can churn out 1.2 billion bottles of ready-to-drink green tea and other beverages a year.
“Thailand’s business sector must build a strong and solid base in production-technology development and innovative marketing concepts to be ready to support the AEC that will happen this year. 
“Today, we have to keep an eye on the AEC market with more than 600 million consumers as a goal. This is because the AEC not only allows us to expand the market boundary outside Thailand, but new competitors in the region are also preparing to march into the Thai market,” he said.
Ichitan expects to increase its sales in Thailand by 20 per cent to about Bt7.5 billion this year. The group is now ready in terms of automatic manufacturing facilities and warehousing, which allows it to produce any beverage at less cost, and to facilitate the group’s competitiveness at the regional level. 
“Our sales last year declined slightly from 2013, but our profit surged by double digits as a result of our better management of costs, so that we will be able to sell products at good prices,” Tan said.
Ichitan Group yesterday launched its summer sales campaign called “Ichitan Rapid Rich Part 4” with what it calls the most unbeatable prizes ever – 50 luxurious Mercedes-Benzes in 50 days.
This year’s campaign increases the chances of winning for consumers for record-breaking prizes worth Bt123.4 million. Also, two famous actresses, Benz Pornchita and Nuclear Hunsa, joined the kick-off at Siam Paragon in Bangkok. 
Subscribers to any mobile operator can enter the contest at no cost from March 5 through May 21. Lucky winners will be announced every weekday at 5pm via text message or and 
“Ichitan Rapid Rich” is one of the group’s key annual marketing plans not only to drive sales to reach the company’s target, but also to stimulate the ready-to-drink tea market to expand by 15 per cent to Bt15.4 billion this year, Tan said.

Published : February 16, 2015