PPG owns 20 of the stores of the estimated 180 points of sale in Panama thus far, flourishing under the expansion policy of Mexican subsidiary Comex, which in part supplies the Central American region for PPG. Comex had nearly 60 stores in Central America when it was acquired by PPG in 2015.
Part of the point-of-sale expansion plan for the company is a presence in Do-it-Yourself centers like Novey, which has 23 stores in Panama. In December, PPG and Novey unveiled Glidden Color Tester facilities at stores in the chain. The Tester provides customers with 100 milliliter samples of a selected color, with a component system that encourages users to combine variations of three colors in a target palette.
Panama’s construction sector will continue to be one of the most dynamic, driven by investment projects in public infrastructure, among which are the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, the expansion of the Panama-Arraiján highway and the extension of Line 2 of the Metro to Tocumen, according to the Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL).
Central America as a whole is a paint and coatings market worth about $133 million, according to CentralAmericaData.com. PPG’s competitors in Panama and the region include Pintuco, Sur and Lanco. Colombia-based Pintuco previously controlled the Glidden brand in Panama.
Apart from architectural and industrial segment sales, protective and maritime sales are a PPG strength in Panama, the largest foreign trade port in the region. Cargo volume handled by ports in Panama increased over 10 percent in 2017 to 6.89 million twenty-foot equivalents (TEUs), according to the Panama Maritime Authority.
Apart from serving the North-South trade, Panama is seeking to serve more East-West trade. Recent trade talks have been held with China and with Dubai and other Gulf countries.
The new PPG factory would supply the Central America and Caribbean regions, as well as part of South America, PPG Director for Latin America Diego Foresi said in a November statement. Panama also could be key to the provision of paints and coatings to Caribbean islands that have suffered hurricane damage recently. The cost of rebuilding Puerto Rico alone has been estimated at $95 billion, involving most of the 3.2 million U.S. residents there.
Panama has been one of the fastest growing economies worldwide at 5.4 percent last year and with a projected 5.5 percent this year, the highest in Latin America, according to the World Bank. The GDP is estimated at $57.8 billion, driven primarily by services and finance.