Lift-maker Kleemann targets China

Greek manufacturer will use new plant as springboard for plan to boost Asian sales

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 4:59am

Kleemann, a Greek-based multinational lift company, is planning a push into China to capture a share of what it views as the vast potential for lift sales arising from the rapid development of the nation's construction and property industries.

"Two-thirds of the world's elevator market are in China. We want to have a presence here," said Nikos Koukoutzos, a general manager of the company.

By the end of this year, Kleemann - one of the biggest lift companies in the world - will begin production at its plant in Kunshan, near Shanghai, which also hosts the mainland operations of industry rivals Thyssen and Kone.

It will also start selling its products in China on a small scale, from a sales office in Shanghai.

Since China is a very competitive market, with many local and international rivals in the sector, Kleemann would not compete on pricing, said Koukoutzos. It would instead target clients that required well-designed and high-quality products.

"For example, we have built a three-storey elevator for a mainland client costing about €30,000 (HK$305,000)," he said.

Kleemann lifts were well regarded in Europe, Russia and Africa and had a sales turnover of US$120 million last year. But to date, its presence in China and the broader Asian region was insignificant, said Koukoutzos.

"About 7 per cent of our turnover comes from Asia [including China] and we plan to increase that to 40 per cent in seven to eight years," he said.

From its new plant in Kunshan, built at an investment cost of €2 million, Kleemann aimed to penetrate markets of Southeast Asia and Oceania in the first stage. "But after two or three years we will target more on the Chinese market," Koukoutzos said.

Multinational lift companies have accelerated their expansion in China. Unlike in Europe and the United States, where economic growth has been weak, the Asian lift market, especially in China, has maintained moderate growth.

Multinational brands have been speeding up their expansion on the mainland, according to research company Research and Markets.

Lift output in China reached 529,000 units last year, up 17.56 per cent year on year, it said.