JOHOR-BASED brick and clay roofing tile manufacturer KIA LIM BHD, which has been in the red since 1998, is optimistic of achieving better results in the near future.
Its chairman and managing director Datuk Ng Eng Sos said the optimism was based on the country's economic recovery which would allow the construction industry to take off again.
The anticipated increased demand for construction and housing-related products in the country would have a positive impact on the company, he added.
Ng said the company's losses were attributed to the slowdown in construction activities, depressed selling prices, high fuel oil prices, interest and depreciation charges.
Our main priority now is to reduce our total debts of RM58.42mil as at Dec 31, 2002, and cut our operating costs, he told StarBiz after the company's AGM last Thursday.
As part of its cost-saving measures, Kia Lim had recently switched to using thermal coke from diesel at its paver brick plant in Parit Sulong, near Batu Pahat.
He said the company did not invest a huge amount of money on the switch as it just re-engineered or re-configured the existing machines to suit the new fuel.
He said demand for paver was expected to go up as the economy had started to show some improvement, especially in the major growth areas like the Federal Terri- tory/Selangor, Johor and Penang.
Ng said Kia Lim was among the top three paver manufacturers in the country with 70% of its products marketed locally and 30% exported to Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Taiwan.
He said it would continue exploring new export markets and China would be the next focus as the roofing tiles and paver sector there was largely untapped and offered many business opportunities.
For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2002, the company's turnover declined to RM33.1mil from RM37.1mil in 2001,and pre-tax loss was RM9.1mil last year against RM8.3mil in 2001.