Business / Companies

Gree considers factory in Europe

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-01-30 10:22

Gree Electric Appliances Inc, China's largest manufacturer of air conditioners, may establish a factory in Europe to boost its sales overseas, according to chairwoman Dong Mingzhu.

"We already sell our products in many overseas markets so it would make sense to open factories there to supply locally," Dong said in an interview during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "We are looking at options in Europe."

Gree, which competes against GD Midea Holding Co and Haier Group Corp in the world's most-populous nation, has looked to expand in emerging markets since 2011 and already has factories in Brazil and Pakistan.

The appliance producer generated 15 percent of its sales outside China in 2013 and operates a subsidiary in the United States.

A recent technology breakthrough in heating systems will allow Gree to tap European demand for air conditioners that can also heat homes, according to Dong.

"Years ago we considered Europe but then we didn't have great technology to produce heating aircons, while cooling ones don't have a huge market there," Dong said. "We are now looking at a few countries but haven't decided which one to go into first."

Its sales are exptected to have increased 16 percent to nearly 140 billion yuan ($22.4 billion) in 2014, according to the average of 12 analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue growth halved from 43 percent in 2010-helped by China's rural appliances stimulus program unveiled the previous year to boost domestic consumption-to 20 percent in 2013.

"Gree will surely be able to maintain its growth rate. It's not merely a numbers target," Dong said. "We'll keep investing in R&D and innovation."

Dong, who was on her first visit to Davos, said the sessions on women in leadership were "interesting".

She was among one of the largest female representations in national-level delegations at the summit this year, with women making up more than 20 percent of the delegates from China.

"In Gree, we try to create a platform where female employees are well supported," Dong said.

"But you don't get special treatment or promotion just because you are a woman. In the end it's still about capability and talent."

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks