BANGKOK – Leading Japanese toilet maker Toto Ltd. has picked Thailand to build a plant for its Washlet electronic toilet seats in a bid to cash in on the product’s growing demand in Asia.
Toto (Thailand) Co., its wholly owned subsidiary, had said it planned to begin plant construction in May and commercial production in April 2020 as part of the group’s efforts to achieve a target of shipping 2 million Washlet units globally in 2022.
The result of a 10.7 billion baht ($33.6 million) investment, Toto’s third factory in the Southeast Asian country will have an annual Washlet output capacity of 450,000 units, with the initial aim of exporting the product to Japan and later also selling it in Thailand and the rest of Asia, the local unit said.
The Washlet-focused plant in Thailand is the fifth of its kind after two in Japan, one in China and one in Malaysia. Toto has selected Thailand for Washlet production due to, among other reasons, the presence of “a manufacturing cluster, including a number of high-tech electronics parts suppliers,” said Hiroyuki Suzuki, president of the local arm.
“Sales of Washlet are growing in Asia (in places) like China, Singapore and Thailand” as five-star hotels and luxury condominiums in Thailand are increasing, he added.
Toto’s overall sales in Thailand have been growing at an annual rate of 20 percent in recent years, according to Suzuki.
The new factory will be within an existing ceramic sanitary ware factory in Saraburi province, where Toto is building another plant to nearly double annual capacity to about 960,000 units by April 2019.
After completion of the second plant, Thailand will be the fourth-largest manufacturing base for the Toto group after Japan, China and Vietnam, with exports accounting for 90 percent of total output.