Company expects to close FY19 with double-digit growth based on current sales momentum

Export growth breezes in for Daikin Malaysia

SUNGAI BULOH: Air conditioning company Daikin Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which has allocated a capital expenditure (capex) of RM434 million for the next financial year ending March 31, 2020 (FY20), will ramp up its efforts on driving export growth, in line with its aim for export to contribute 70% of its total sales by FY20, from 65% now.

COO Ooi Cheng Suan (pix) said products from its flagship factory here, mainly air conditioners for residential (household) use, as well as light commercial and commercial, are exported to 70 countries in the world.

“We are driving export because the Malaysian market is not big and it is limited. To expand, we must go beyond, go out (of Malaysia). Being made in Malaysia, it (our products) is well accepted. In these two years, our ringgit has weakened and this has given us certain advantage when exporting. We become more competitive,” he told SunBiz in an interview recently.

He said traditionally, the company had been exporting to Europe, with the more prominent countries being Italy, Greece, France, UK, as well as the Middle East. This year, in addition to Central Europe, it has expanded its export to the US and Latin America.

“We want to achieve at least 70% export for this factory here (remaining 30% for local market). As per our plan and budget, we’re on track to move towards 70%,” said Ooi.

He explained that the US-China trade war has given the company an opportunity of exporting into the US due to the imposition of tariffs on products from China, which impacted Daikin China’s export into US.

“Malaysia’s platform is similar to China’s platform, so we can transfer that demand from US (supplied originally by China) to Malaysia. We’re in a good position (to secure that opportunity) because we’re competitive and we’re able to respond fast to changes so there’s a high chance that the demand of US (for Daikin) will shift to Malaysia (from China),” explained Ooi.

In Malaysia, Daikin, the world’s industry leader in air conditioning, prides itself as the number one air conditioner maker in terms of sales turnover and the number of air conditioners sold in the market. Annually, its Sungai Buloh factory produces 1.4 million sets (comprises indoor evaporator and outdoor condenser). Currently the residential segment makes up over 60% of its sales, while the remaining 40% comes from the light commercial, commercial and industrial segments.

Ooi, who is also deputy regional general manager for Asia emerging districts, claims that the Japanese brand Daikin is also the top air conditioner maker in almost all of the markets in Southeast Asia (SEA), based on its survey.

“Some players claim they’re number one at serving only a niche market. Daikin has the full range of air conditioners, from as small as 0.5 horsepower to a few thousand horsepower. We cover the full spectrum of the market,” said Ooi.

The company is expecting to close FY19 with a double-digit growth based on its current sales momentum.

“For the Malaysian market, the situation (sales) is slow, but the upcoming Chinese New Year will spur some buying from consumers. From past experience, when it comes to February and March, the weather turns hot and this will spur impulse buying.

“Air conditioner has become a necessity. The price of air conditioner in Malaysia is not too far reaching that it becomes a luxury item. It has been relatively low, affordable for the public,” said Ooi, adding that globally, demand for air conditioner from developing countries like India and Africa is growing fast.

He stressed on two important pillars for growing the local market, including the introduction of R32 refrigerant products (low global warming potential), as well as educating the market to move to energy-efficient products, such as the Inverter series.

Daikin Malaysia will invest RM100 million annually as capex for facility and machine upgrading.

Its two new factories in Shah Alam and Banting will focus on manufacturing applied products, comprising chillers and air handling units, for large, high rise buildings, shopping centres and industrial use. The Shah Alam factory, which was set up at RM140 million, will start its full-fledged production by 2019 and is expected to have a turnover of RM100 million per year in the beginning.

“This is the only applied factory in SEA Oceania and this will be the factory that will support the whole SEA Oceania. With our plan to expand our applied business in SEA Oceania, we’ve set up our applied regional hub in Malaysia and Singapore to expand the sales in SEA.”

Meanwhile, it will also invest RM125 million to set up a factory in Shah Alam to make electronic devices (air conditioner controllers), which will come into production by 2020. Ooi said this factory will supply to Daikin’s affiliates, of which there are 73 factories in the world.

“Currently we’re already exporting to Daikin factories in Turkey, Vietnam, Czech Republic and the US. We can’t cater to the whole demand of Daikin. These factories that we’re catering for are less than 20% of the demand of Daikin group. A good percentage is still supplied by others,” said Ooi.

It is also allocating RM135 million to set up a centralised logistics centre, which is expected to start operations by early 2020-2021.

In addition, some RM74 million has been budgeted for research & development in FY20.