Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thailand's Honda predicts zero growth for 2008 year

WORANUJ MANEERUNGSEE


Zenjiro Sakurai (left), president of AP Honda, and Surachai Chetchotisak, the president of RS Plc, announce a joint sponsorship agreement for Euro 2008 at a briefing yesterday.

Market leader AP Honda Co predicts zero local sales growth of motorcycles this year, said president Zenjiro Sakurai.

Mr Sakurai expected total sales for 2008 to reach 1.6 million units _ the same as in 2007, which were down 17% from the year before. Although Thai politics seemed to be back on track, there still have been setbacks for the Thai economy.

For instance, he said the strong baht and expensive oil could weaken the Thai economy.

He added that the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States would affect Thailand.

Fortunately, he said, the country's fundamentals were still strong.

''The overall market is unlikely to improve significantly this year. However, it would be better than last year, which had a shrinking market. Hopefully, the new government will stimulate local consumption, so sales can expand,'' said Mr Sakurai.

He said that AP Honda aimed to maintain its market share at 70% _ the same as last year. The company neither had plans to cut its marketing budget nor scale down its staff.

Last year, the company posted a 14% fall in volume to 1.12 million units.He said the company decided to spend 70 million baht to sponsor live broadcasts of the Euro 2008 football tournament in June. It is joining with RS International Broadcasting and Sports Management Co (RSbs), which holds al the broadcasting rights for the tournament in Thailand.

He said AP Honda did not expect the marketing campaign would boost sales, but it would help strengthen the brand.

The tournament takes place from June 7-29 in Austria and Switzerland.

Vorawoot Rojanaparnich, chief executive officer of RSbs, said that in addition to AP Honda, Chang Beer would be major sponsor of the tournament. Mr Vorawoot said the partners in Euro 2008 would also sponsor the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Surachai Chetchotisak, the president of RS Plc, said the company would begin Euro 2008 activities in April with three sports programmes on Channel 9. In May, five programmes would air on Channels 7 and 9, the major broadcasting partners.

RS, the SET-listed sports and entertainment company, expects that Euro 2008 would be a key driver for its business this year with 500 million baht in revenues or one-sixth of the company's total.

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