Kansai Paint Expands in Middle East

By Tim Wright | November 1, 2010

As part of its expansion plans in the Middle East region, Japan’s leading coatings manufacturer recently inaugurated a new plant in Iran.

Kansai Paint, Japan's leading paint manufacturer, with operations in more than 40 countries spanning the globe from Asia to Europe and North America, recently expanded its operations in the Middle East, Central Asian and North African regions as well as India and China.  
Formed in 1918, Kansai Paint has since grown to become the 7th largest paint manufacturer in the world and with the establishment of Kansai Paint Middle East (KPME) in Dubai, UAE, as its window company for the Middle East, Central Asian and North African regions including Iran and Pakistan, Kansai is poised to serve these markets with its cutting edge technology.
KPME through its wholly owned subsidiaries has been manufacturing and selling a complete range of products in Pakistan since 2009 while its Iran plant was inaugurated on July 11, 2010 by Mr. Shoju Kobayashi, chairman of Kansai Paint.
According to Mr. Kobayashi, Kansai Paint is a technology driven company as opposed to being brand driven. As such it operates one of the largest research and development centers for paint and coating solutions in the world. The firm is focused on developing leading technology in coatings, spending more than $50 million annually on research and development alone.
With more than $2.7 billion annual sales and an asset base of approximately $2.6 billion, Kansai Paint operates three state-of-the-art automotive paint plants from its headquarters in Osaka, Japan and is the leading supplier of automotive coatings to Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, Honda, Peugeot and Renault worldwide.
Coatings World had the chance to discuss Kansai’s recent investments in the Middle East region, as well as the firm’s broader strategy, with the chairman, Mr. Kobayashi.

What coatings markets will the new plant in Iran serve and what is the strategy behind this capital investment?

The manufacturing plant in Iran will serve the automotive and industrial coatings markets within Iran and some countries in Central Asia. As far as the reasons for this investment are concerned, Kansai has been supplying paint to automotive customers in Iran—alongside Dupont, PPG, BASF, Henkel and other global players—since 2005. Kansai’s supply to the region operated under an import model. However, this model continued to become more and more impractical due to increases in demand and overall volumes. Therefore Kansai established a production base to serve the Iran market more efficiently.

What is the initial production capacity?

The current capacity on a single shift basis is 18,000 tons.

According to Kansai’s estimates, what is the current size of the Middel East coatings market?

Though estimates vary, based on publicly available information, the size of the market is currently in excess of $3 billion.

What is Kansai’s market share in the region and what are your growth projections for the future?

Kansai is a new entrant, having established its window company, Kansai Paint Middle East, in early 2008. Therefore our share is quite modest at this stage. However, given the strength of the Kansai product portfolio, the company expects to achieve a double-digit share of the market within the next ten years.  

What are Kansai’s goals for the new plant and in the Middle East region as a whole?

Kansai has set-up two new plants since the establishment of Kansai Paint Middle East and intends to construct an additional seven plants over the course of the next few years. The number plants, their size and scope will of course depend on the emerging opportunities and Kansai’s ability to penetrate each market and build scale.     

How would you characterize the Middle East paint and coatings industry and how does it differ from other regions?

The Middle East, Africa and Central Asia region is in a sense an emerging market as opposed to the mature markets of Japan, Asean, Europe  and North America. Moving a step ahead of the vertical integration of the oil and gas industries and the petrochemical sector, which has direct synergies with the natural resource availability in the region, many economies are building infrastructure for new industries such as light manufacturing, tourism, financial services and sophisticated global trading hubs. The economic boom, and subsequent changes happening in the market have led to the growth of various infrastructure and industrial segments, which in turn has driven growth of the paint and coatings sector in these countries.

How would you characterize the state of the coatings industry as a whole?

The global coatings industry has been consolidating through mergers and acquisitions over the last five years. Moreover, there is an increased requirement for developing not only environmentally friendly products but coatings for new emerging applications, leading to the need for fairly significant investments in research and development. Secondly, volume has become important in securing raw materials at globally competitive prices. Thus, scale is becoming essential for long term sustainability. Until 2006, no global company enjoyed a market share exceeding seven percent; with the acquisition of ICI by AkzoNobel and of Sigma by PPG the measure has changed.

Is Kansai’s business rebounding after the recession?

Kansai was able to come out of the economic crisis fairly quickly since its mainstay in term of segments was automotive, which was able to garner significant government support. Moreover, in terms of geography, China and India were Kansai’s main markets outside Japan and these did not suffer for too long; these markets are booming across all segments.   

What can we expect moving through the next few quarters from Kansai Paint? Describe the firm’s strategy for navigating these turbulent times?

Kansai is maintaining its growth oriented mind-set in terms of its strategy and plan while being particularly cautious with respect to costs.

Where can we expect to see future investment?

The next few investments are expected to be in China, India, The Middle East and Africa. Kansai has already announced an approximately $100 million investment in India.