SHANGHAI: Chinese home appliance makers are ratcheting up efforts to expand their presence in overseas markets, increase investment in localised research and development (R&D), and roll out high-end products amid intensified competition from rivals in the domestic market.
Industry experts said establishing overseas branches or production centres will not only spread China’s advanced manufacturing, R&D, and management capabilities abroad but also create job opportunities for locals, boost brand awareness, and enhance the competitiveness of Chinese enterprises globally.
Chinese consumer electronics company TCL Technology Group Corp is accelerating steps to strengthen its global operations and expand its overseas footprint in the semiconductor display and photovoltaic industries.
In recent years, TCL has expanded overseas factories making televisions, modules and photovoltaic cells in Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico and India.
It has established ventures with local partners in Brazil to jointly build production centres, supply chains and a research and development system.
“Looking ahead, we will actively consider increasing industrial centres in Africa and strengthening our business in the Middle East,” said Li Dongsheng, founder and chairman of TCL.
TCL has set up 43 R&D centres and 32 manufacturing centres around the world, with operations in more than 160 countries and regions. International business has become TCL’s biggest growth driver.
Li said China’s manufacturing sector should transition from exporting products to exporting industrial capacity given current global economic patterns, thus driving exports of domestic components, materials and equipment.
“We should accelerate the building of global industrial chains, break down trade barriers and build and improve our operations systems in the global market,” he said.
The retail sales of China’s home appliance sector reached 708.1 billion yuan (US$103bil or RM460bil) in 2022, down 7.4% year-on-year (y-o-y), according to Beijing-based market consultancy AVC.
“Expansion into overseas markets will not only relieve the pressure of high inventories but also increase the international influence,” said Dong Min, deputy secretary-general of the China Video Industry Association.
Jia Shaoqian, president of Qingdao, Shandong province-based home appliance maker Hisense Group, said revenue from overseas markets is expected to take up more than half of the company’s total revenues within three years.
Hisense is accelerating its overseas expansion in high-end laser TVs and ultra light-emitting diode TVs, which reflect great improvements in image quality over earlier technologies.
Its laser TVs have been sold in many countries and regions, including the United States, Australia, Germany, France, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
Hisense ranked second in global television shipments in 2022, with an increase of 16.1% y-o-y, according to market research company Omdia.
The company also aims to boost its brand awareness through the sponsorship of major sporting events.
In recent years, Hisense has been a sponsor of several world-class sporting events, including the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Seeing demand grow for air conditioners in the Middle East, Chinese home appliance giant Midea Group has been seeking opportunities to localise manufacturing in the region in hopes of offering faster delivery for local consumers.
The company has set up an overseas office in Dubai. It has also built a refrigerator, washing machine and water heater factory in Egypt that serves Middle Eastern and African markets. — China Daily/ANN