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Architecture products firm tempers outlook

Wednesday, June 1, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES [ BusinessWorld Online ]

GLOBAL ARCHITECTURE products firm Hunter Douglas Group expects slower growth for its local operations this year given the economic crisis, a company official said yesterday.

"This year we are not that bullish. We expect about 50% to 60% growth this year," Gigi Anne M. Lapira, president and country manager of Hunter Douglas, said in an interview.

"[The economic crisis] affected our sales in a way because our [environment-friendly] products have a premium price so we need to invest more in explaining it to [customers] why they are supposed to buy the product," she added.

The firm recorded a 300% growth in sales between 2006 and 2007 and 100% growth in 2008, Ms. Lapira said.

The Netherlands-based Hunter Douglas Group is composed of 169 companies with 67 manufacturing and 102 assembly plants and marketing organizations in more than 100 countries. It employs about 21,000 people worldwide.

Hunter Douglas, which has been operating in the country for more than 13 years with a plant in Laguna, manufactures ceilings, claddings, facade systems, window treatments, and translucent panels. Clients of Hunter Douglas include SM Development Corp., Ayala Land Premier, and religious group El Shaddai.

Hunter Douglas has established a niche in the market for architectural products, window coverings, and home improvement products.

"It would be more economical if you use the concepts of green architecture like natural lighting. You will be using less energy," Ana S. Mangalino-Ling, president of the United Architects of the Philippines, said in a separate interview.

The Hunter Douglas Group recorded $2.943 billion in sales last year, 2.8% lower than in 2007. Asian sales reached $162 million, 4% lower than $168 million in revenues for the same period last year.

"I think the companies that will prevail in these hard times are the companies that offer value in their prods," Ms. Lapira said. — Neil Jerome C. Morales


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