Electro Mart, one of the leading electronic companies in the country, currently manufactures television, refrigerators, and air conditioners of foreign brands, such as Konka and Gree, alongside its own brand Haiko.
The company has recently announced plans to make a huge investment in this sector. In an interview with Abbas Uddin Noyon of The Business Standard, Nurul Afsar, deputy managing director at Electro Mart, talked about their new investment, the country's electronics market and its future potential.
Gree tops the AC market in the country, while Konka has secured a good market position with its TV and fridge sales. How did it happen?
The purchasing power of our consumers is increasing along with the progress of our economy. With the spread of information technology, people now want a touch of modernity in their lives. If you can produce quality products, people will buy. During the 2002 FIFA World Cup, people queued up to buy Konka televisions. Later we brought refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens etc. to market to meet people's demand.
Electro Mart imported Konka TV from China in 1998 to provide people an opportunity to buy televisions at a low price. Then Konka TV would cost one-third of what other brands charged. In 1999, we introduced Gree air conditioners. At that time, ACs were not within the reach of common people. The price of 1.5 tons of General AC was Tk80,000, but the same from Gree was Tk50,000. Naturally, we got a big response.
You came to manufacturing after nearly 40 years of your business. What is the reason behind this?
At first, we were involved in imports and selling to retailers. Later, we entered into retail business. At one point, we started assembling electronics products. But, we were a little late to start manufacturing. There are reasons behind this.
We wanted to invest in manufacturing a long time ago as there was a lot of potential here. But we could not do so as there was no policy support. At first, the policy support that the government was providing was only for a year. But later when we saw that the government was increasing this facility every year, we took the risk. We bought land in 2016 and gradually built infrastructure. Now our factory is fully in production. Our production capacity is constantly increasing.
How big is the market for electric products in the country now? What is your position?
At present, the market size of electronics products amounts to Tk30,000 crore. The market is growing by more than 10% every year. Electronics and home appliance products of Gree, Konka and Haiko have a demand in every household even in remote areas of Bangladesh.
Gree accounts for about 60% of air conditioner sales, while Konka has occupied about 30% and Haiko 5% of the market. Besides, Gree, Konka and Haiko products have a global demand for their special features, quality, acceptability, services and affordable prices.
What are your plans for Haiko?
Although we introduced the Haiko brand a long time ago, it was not available in the market that much. We have started production of Haiko refrigerator, TV, fan, AC and microwave ovens after setting up a new factory. Our showrooms and dealers are selling Haiko products besides those of Gree and Konka.
Establishing a new brand is a matter of time. We will focus on Haiko after starting exports of Gree and Konka products by 2025. We believe Haiko will be a strong brand through technology transfer with Gree and Konka.
Are the current policies of the government sufficient for the development of the electronics sector?
We believe that the current policy of the government is favorable enough to manufacture electronics products in the country. There is VAT exemption till 2022. We established our factory in 2018. So, we hope that the government will extend it for another 10 years.
The government policies should continue in a steady way for the sake of the industry. This will attract foreign investors who plan for a long time.
For example, China received a lot of foreign investment at one point. Investors are now considering moving out of China for various reasons, including politics. They are interested in shifting to Bangladesh. If Bangladesh formulates appropriate policy, foreign investors will flow in.
We demand that the government give us a tax break for a long time. Everyone wants a guaranteed return after making an investment of thousands of crores. If the government provides the facility till 2030, huge investment is possible in this sector. Because, China and European countries are not doing well in these sectors due to the labour crisis. We have the opportunity to take advantage of this.