BANGKOK – Leading Japanese toilet maker Toto Ltd. is boosting production capacity in Thailand to meet global demand for its Washlet toilets, as well as potential domestic market needs.
Toto (Thailand) Co., its wholly owned subsidiary, said it is planning to complete the construction of its second factory in the country in April 2019. The new facility will nearly double annual output capacity to 870,000 units, with a 2.88 billion baht ($88 million) investment.
The new plant under construction will produce 420,000 units in addition to the current 450,000 unit capacity at the first plant, which is located adjacent to the new site in an industrial park in the central province of Saraburi.
Thailand will be the fourth-largest manufacturing base for the Toto group, after Japan, China and Vietnam.
The subsidiary will hire 600 workers — about half the size of the 1,100-strong workforce at the first plant — as the manufacturing process will use more automation at the new facility amid a tightening labor market in the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia.
Hiroyuki Suzuki, president of the local arm, said the new plant will mainly serve overseas markets, particularly Southeast Asia, the United States and Japan, as does the first plant, which exports up to 90 percent of its total output.
But Toto, which usually sells high-end products, also expects the second Thai factory to help strengthen the Japanese brand’s position in the local market.
The planned expansion is in line with growing income among the middle class, which could help improve the affordability of Toto products.
The 100-year-old Japanese company has recently opened a technical center in Bangkok to showcase and promote products to real estate firms and designers.