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Upon completion, Unilever's new production facility in Tianjin will be able to produce 100,000 metric tons of detergent and softeners each year. [Photo/China Daily]
To meet increasing demand from emerging markets, Unilever has started construction in China of one of its largest production operations, where it will make liquid laundry detergent and fabric softeners.
The project will be in the Binhai New Area, a business district in Tianjin, and will occupy 53 hectares. The first phase will take up nearly 27 hectares and will be completed by the end of this year.
The new operation, to be called the Unilever Tianjin Industrial Park, is designed to be able to produce 100,000 metric tons of detergent and softeners each year.
The consumer products giant said the new base will not only increase Unilever China's capacity for production but also its exports to North Asia.
"The investment in the first phase of the project will reach $100 million and I hope this will only be the beginning," said Harish Manwani, president of the company's Asian and African divisions, in an earlier interview.
Early this month, Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch company, reported its annual financial results for 2011. Its underlying sales- a measure that excludes the effects of acquisitions and currency fluctuations - increased by 6.5 percent in 2011 from the previous year. That change was driven by the company's performance in emerging markets and by sales of products in its home care and personal care categories.
The company's operating profit last year was 6.4 billion euros ($8.4 billion), up from 6.3 billion euros in 2010. Unilever's underlying operating margin for 2011 was 14.9 percent, down slightly from 15 percent in 2010, a decrease caused in part by inflation and the depressed consumer demand seen in developed countries.
The company's performance was particularly strong in emerging markets, which delivered underlying sales growth of 11.5 percent. Such sales increased by double-digit percentages in a wide range of countries, including China and India, the financial report said.
Since entering China in 1986, the maker of Lipton tea and Dove soaps has put a priority on the Chinese market.
China is one of the places in the world where Unilever's sales have been increasing the fastest. In the past five years, its business in China has shown an average annual growth rate of more than 18 percent.
"Unilever plans to greatly increase its market share and multiply by five times its business in China in 10 years," said Alan Jope, president of Unilever North Asia.
"Meanwhile, the birth of Unilever Tianjin Industrial Park indicates Unilever's strong confidence in the Chinese market. We believe that it will add wings to the development of Unilever China and its whole North Asia market."