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INAX has big plans for China market

Japan's major sanitary fixtures and tiling maker, INAX Corp, aims to make China its largest overseas market in three years.

INAX plans to expand the number of franchise stores in China to 50 from 30 now. It competes with rivals like Japan's Toto Ltd and United States-based Kohler Co which now have a bigger market share in the high-end rest room and bathroom fixtures sector in China.

"In some sense, we are forced to tap more international markets as domestic (Japan) demand is suffering," said Yamaguchi Susumu, chairman of INAX China, yesterday. "Though we came in later than other global brands (in China), we believe we can catch up by providing something unique."

The company wants to triple overseas sales in three years and China would play a key role in that effort. China, where sales growth has been accelerating, could exceed Vietnam to become the firm's biggest foreign market in three years and account for half of its overseas sales in five years, he told Shanghai Daily after opening the company's 670-square-meter China flagship store in Shanghai yesterday.

INAX set up its first overseas factory in Vietnam using it as an export base, but the fast growing purchasing power of the Vietnamese soon made the Southeast Asian nation its top overseas market.

Yamaguchi wouldn't give the overseas proportion in the firm's global sales of 320.8 billion yen (US$3.3 billion) for fiscal 2007, the latest year for which data were available.

In 1996, INAX started business in China where it now has four factories.


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