3M bullish on sales growth in China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 1:26am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 1:26am

3M forecast sales from mainland China will grow three times faster than the company's total revenue because of demand for health and consumer products such as face masks and water filters, chief executive Inge Thulin said.

The United States-based maker of products such as Post-it notes was targeting annual sales growth in mainland China of about 15 per cent over the next five years, compared with global growth of 4 to 6 per cent, Thulin said in Shanghai last week. Mainland China generated about 10 per cent of its global revenue of US$30.9 billion last year, he said.

"We have capitalised on infrastructure and manufacturing and now we are on safety, consumer and health care," Thulin said. "If you think about it from the big mega trends, there's air pollution, water and food safety. There are big opportunities for us in those areas."

The mainland suffered from record levels of pollution last year, causing unanticipated demand for the company's face masks, which can filter out particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter that are the most dangerous to health than other particulate matter. The masks sold out in December, according to Royce Hua, 3M's head of corporate communications on the mainland.

3M was now better prepared to deal with any potential shortages of masks, Thulin said. "I will make sure product is available because it's not based on running out of capacity," he said.

While 3M planned "aggressive investments" in the consumer and health-care industries, it would also continue to grow its industrial products business, Thulin said.

The company has 11 manufacturing plants on the mainland that produce everything from adhesives, tapes and filters to the Post-it sticky notes.