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Procter & Gamble says RP one of top market priorities

MANILA, Philippines - Top consumer goods maker Procter & Gamble (P&G) Philippines is targeting double-digit sales growth this year on the back of strong demand for its beauty, laundry and other personal care products. P&G President and General Manager James M. Lafferty said revenues would likely hit P30 billion for fiscal year 2007, which ends in May. "The Philippines is one of the top global priorities for P&G," he told reporters at Wednesday’s inauguration of the company’s new P380-million warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna. P&G Philippines, which was established 75 years ago, is the multinational’s third oldest subsidiary in the world. The new distribution facility will increase the company’s production capacity by 50% to handle 60,000 pallets of finished goods from 40,000. "The improved and expanded loading dock designs have increased our loading and shipping capacity by at least 20% or over 200 trucks per day during peak periods, enabling us to serve customers on a daily basis and deliver product faster," said Samuel Garcia, head of the P&G plant. Mr. Lafferty said P&G is also looking at hiring 40 more employees from 400 now. Major investments for the company’s three main business segments — marketing and distribution, manufacturing and back office operations — are likewise underway, but he declined to give details. The company also expects robust growth for its export market, Mr. Lafferty said. P&G Philippines exports paper products such as diapers and sanitary napkins, soap, dishwashing liquids and detergent products to other Southeast Asian countries. The 22-hectare Laguna plant, which serves the domestic and export markets, manufactures about 75,000 cases daily of popular P&G products like Tide, Ariel, Mr. Clean, Joy dishwashing liquid soap, Downy fabric enhancer, Pampers, Whisper, Safeguard, Zest, Secret and Old Spice. The facility also houses imported brands like Pantene, Rejoice, Head & Shoulders, Olay, Pringles and Vicks. P&G controls about 60% of the local soap market because of Safeguard, and about half of the shampoo segment through Head & Shoulders. Last year, the company said it was aiming to grow its sales in the country by 10% to 20% in the next five years. In 2005, P&G pledged to invest an additional P1.5 billion in its Philippine operations in three years, a part of which was to be used to expand the capacity of the existing facility. - B.S. Sto. Domingo, BusinessWorld