Japan's Tokai Optical to produce progressive lenses in Thailand

BANGKOK, NNA - Japanese spectacle lens maker Tokai Optical Co. will begin producing progressive lenses in Thailand, seeking to capture a slice of the growing pie in the aging Southeast Asian country.

The company has partnered with the country's largest lens manufacturer, Thai Optical Group Public Co., to launch production of its first locally made lenses next month for sale under Tokai's brands via Nam Silp Thai Co., a local distributor, according to the Japanese firm based in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan.

Tokai has decided to begin local production on the back of a 40 percent annual growth in sales of Japanese-made lenses in Thailand for the past five years, President Hirokazu Furuzawa said.

With Tokai providing expertise in lens manufacturing, the two firms will jointly produce 500 pairs a month on a production line at Thai Optical's plant in Nonthaburi Province, north of Bangkok, the second production base outside Japan for Tokai after a joint venture in Belgium.

"By adopting Tokai's technology, we will be able to produce a wider variety of products," said Torn Pracharktam, managing director of Thai Optical, which boasts annual lens output capacity of 35 million pieces.

The size of the Thai optical lens market is about 3 billion baht ($90 million), which is growing at an average annual rate of 3 to 5 percent, with progressive lenses accounting for a quarter of the total, said Yosanun Pracharktam, Nam Silp Thai's managing director.

The share of progressive lenses in the entire market is expected to grow to 30 percent in the next three years, prompted by needs for such lenses among an aging population in Southeast Asia's second largest economy after Indonesia, Yosanun added.

Exporting products to more than 50 countries and regions worldwide, Tokai is stepping up efforts to increase its overseas sales ratio from the current 15 percent to 50 percent by 2039, the 100th anniversary of its establishment.

The Japanese company will put greater focus on Asia for global expansion as the region is facing a graying society, Furuzawa added. (NNA/Kyodo)



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