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Wednesday May 26, 2010

Penang figures prominently in Symmetry’s plans

GEORGE TOWN: Symmetry Medical Inc is growing its manufacturing and design facility in Penang, putting it on track to become one of the largest facilities in the group over the next five years.

Group president and chief executive officer Brian Moore told StarBiz in an interview that Symmetry Medical wouild be allocating between US$5mil and US$10mil per annum over the next five years for the expansion of the facility in Bayan Lepas Industrial Estate.

Moore is here to attend the launch of the first shipment of orthopaedic implants to be shipped out from the Penang facility to Japan on Thursday.

“We are adding another 30,000 sq ft to the existing 50,000sq ft building in Bayan Lepas.

“This new facility should be ready to commence operations in the first quarter of 2011,” he said, adding that this was the first step in the group’s expansion plans in Penang.

Symmetry Medical employees packing orthopaedic implants at the company’s 50,000 sq ft facility in Bayan Lepas

“We plan to do another one in two years time. The expansion will either take place either on the mainland or on the island. Over the next five years, our headcount in Penang will also grow gradually to between 600 and 800 from 130 presently,” Moore said. Among the reasons for growing the operations in Penang is due to China being the fastest growing market for orthopaedic implants, and that the group’s largest customers such as Johnson & Johnson, Stryker, and Biomet had shifted their orthopaedic manufacturing plants to China, he explained.

“The orthopaedic market in China grows at about 25% per annum.

On top of this, Japanese Medical Materials, the largest Japanese orthopaedic company in Japan, is also our largest customer in Asia Pacific,” he said.

The present global market for orthopaedic implants is estimated to be around US$30bil per annum.

The plant in Penang presently exports 50% of its orthopaedic implants to Asia Pacific and the other 50% to US and Europe.

“We do see Symmetry Medical in Penang gradually exporting more to the Asia Pacific market,” he said.

Moore said the group presently outsourced 20% to 30% of its manufacturing work to local companies specialising in precision tooling work.

“We will continue to outsource more as we expand in Penang,” he added.

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