THAILAND: Michelin's tyre sales deflated - Exports raised until flooding subsides

The company has more than 400 dealers nationwide including exclusive Tyre Plus shops, but 12 % of these are in crisis-plagued provinces and have closed.

"We're not sure whether these dealers will reopen after the floodwater has subsided," said Segsarn Trai-Ukos, country director for the Michelin Siam Group. He said the company's sales network problems will bring down domestic tyre sales figures for this year.

Only 40 % of Michelin's domestic tyre production is slated for local sales. Most of the exports are to Asean markets. Reduced local sales have prompted the company to step up exports as long as flooding remains a problem, said Mr Segsarn. Most of the domestic sales are in the replacement market, with the remainder used in car assembly.

Michelin will open the 100th Tyre Plus shop across from CentralPlaza Lardprao on 14 January 2012. The first one that is wholly owned by the company, it will also house a training centre.

Mr Segsarn said Michelin will also build a $75-million (3-billion-baht) rubber processing plant in Songkhla's Hat Yai district, where a natural-rubber trading centre is located. The factory will start operating late next year as Michelin's sixth facility in Thailand. The other five are located in Saraburi, Samut Prakan, Rayong and Chon Buri provinces.

Michelin will have a pavilion at the BoI Fair to be held lakeside at Muang Thong Thani from 5-20 January 2012. The pavilion, under the theme of "A Touch of Tyre", will trace the making of its products from their rubber origins to their production using high technology.

Source: Daily "Bangkok Post", Bangkok; 10 Dec 2011

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)