Thursday, May 7, 2009

Liquid boom

Water manufacturer Pere Ocean looks to grow

Valarie Tan,

DESPITE slowing global demand, water manufacturer Pere Ocean is still enjoying solid exports.

The Singapore company sees steady orders of 400,000 bottles of mineral water from Japan every month and is now available in more than 20 hotels in Japan.

And from this month, it plans to export some 150,000 bottles a month to convenience stores in Australia and China.

But before these plans fell into place, things weren't altogether smooth-sailing for Pere Ocean. After sales for its water dispensing services fell by 5 per cent in Malaysia and Singapore towards the end of last year, the firm spent over $100,000 on roadshows and surveys at other overseas markets.

Said Pere Ocean chief executive Jerry Tan (picture): "Last year there were warning signs that the recession was looming, so we had to prepare. So, we sent people out to explore other markets to see what we could do."

Fortunately, said the firm, the shortfall was made up after the Chinese New Year period. It currently provides water dispenser services to 8,000 to 10,000 clients.

The company found that demand for safe drinking water surged after an outbreak of food poisoning cases around the world last year. "Towards the end of last year there was a lot of bad news about products from China and other places. So, people started to look for quality products, even if they had to pay a little bit more. So, we fitted into that category," said Mr Tan.

Pere Ocean has set aside another $750,000 over the next three years to invest in strengthening its brand regionally and develop new health drinks. It believes that demand for its products will grow especially with more people becoming health-conscious in the region.

In branding, Pere Ocean has partnered Singapore sports organisations to provide bursaries to aspiring young athletes. It already partners international brands like Lipton and Nestle through its water dispensing services, and manufactures water for housebrands like NTUC FairPrice that outsource the service.

The company is already looking to set up a second plant in Malaysia, which will cost about $2 million and is expected to be up and running within the next six months to a year. Although it declined to provide exact figures, Pere Ocean projected a 10- to 20-per-cent growth in revenue this year — something the company can drink to during these stormy times. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

From TODAY, Enterprise – Wednesday, 06-May-2009

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