Thorn Lighting plans three joint ventures for mainland

Adela Ma

BRITISH manufacturer Thorn Lighting is negotiating the setting up of three joint-venture factories in China to produce lighting systems.

Thorn, which boasts Jardine Pacific as its strategic Asia-Pacific partner, is hoping to strengthen its presence in what is the fastest-growing market in the world.

General manager Lam Chung-kit said Thorn's strength was in the design and installation of lighting systems for infrastructure projects such as airports and highways.

Mr Lam said in 1993 and 1994 Thorn completed projects in 22 mainland airports and that 40 to 50 airports in China were pencilled in for renovation or upgrading in the next decade.

'This is really a huge market,' he said. Each project was worth $5 million to $6 million.

Thorn also has systems to provide floodlights for sports grounds, light museums and commercial buildings.

'Generally infrastructure projects that require higher technology generate higher profit margins,' Mr Lam said.

Systems for commercial buildings are their chief earner. Thorn has 24 per cent of market share in this field, which contributes more than 30 per cent of turnover.

In Hong Kong, Thorn's key projects include the Legco building, highway lighting. Last month it secured a $163 million contract to light the Chek Lap Kok runway.

'Though we're six years in the Asia-Pacific region already, we're trying to step up our presence and catch up with the growth here,' said regional manager Steve Grao.

Business in the region contributed 20 per cent of group turnover, about $710 million.

He said emerging economies from Vietnam to Cambodia had captured Thorn's interest, though a stable supply of electricity had to be in place before the company could explore business opportunities.