BRITAIN-BASED vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson Ltd plans to increase its investment in Malaysia now totalling US$80mil within the next one or two years.
Its deputy chairman Sir Richard Needham said the additional investment would see an expansion in production facilities to produce new vacuum cleaner models and maybe other household electrical appliances.
We already have ideas on how much more we're going to invest and what are the new products but we are not telling you (reporters) today, Needham said after the roll-out of Dyson Manufacturing Sdn Bhd's one millionth bagless vacuum cleaner by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz on Sunday.
He said Malaysia's political stability, good infrastructure, skilled workforce and competitive cost were among the factors that attracted the company to transfer its vacuum cleaner manufacturing activities to Johor.
Dyson started producing vacuum cleaners for export at its plant in Senai Industrial Estate II three years ago. Johor-based VS Industry Bhd and Meiban Sdn Bhd are the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) for the company, providing plastic injection moulding for the vacuum cleaners.
Needham said the bagless vacuum cleaners were marketed in 23 countries, mostly in Europe while in Asia they were available in Japan and Singapore.
We are going to market the product in Hong Kong and Malaysia this year and for Malaysia, we might appoint a Britain-based furniture and electrical retailer company as our distributor, he added.
Europeans preferred bulky vacuum cleaners while Asians opted for compact-sized, he said, adding that by the year-end, Dyson would be producing 1.5 million vacuum cleaners here.
Meanwhile, Rafidah said Malaysia continued to attract export-oriented projects, particularly in the electrical machinery, and appliances and parts sector, with 2002 registering 16.1% increase in exports to RM92.3bil.
Exports of electrical and household appliances increased by 27.7% in 2002 reaching RM1.39bil and of this, vacuum cleaners accounted for RM304.8mil of export value, an increase of 203% over 2001, she said.
She said although Malaysia had lost its competitive advantage for labour intensive industries, the country could offer a package which (if) taken as a whole, made for cost-competitive production. Malaysian-made products did not necessarily compete with the low-end and low-priced manufactured goods from low labour cost countries.
Given innovative design, state-of-the-art technology, aggressive and strategic promotion and marketing of brand-names, Malaysian-made exports can find their own market segments and niches abroad, she added.
Rafidah said strategic targeting of consumer groups could be more beneficial for manufacturers, rather than competing amongst those selling low-priced, mass market products yielding thin margins.
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