Aluminium business pulls in newcomers

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=180305

Aluminium business pulls in newcomers
Sajjadur Rahman

The market of aluminium extrusion products used in doors, windows and curtain walls has been growing rapidly as wood is getting scarce by the day.

Nearly half a dozen companies have hit the market in the past two years to cash in on the growing market size now estimated at around Tk 600 crore a year.

Of the new entrants, PHP Group, which is one of the biggest conglomerates in the country, is the latest, and started selling products in February. Aramit, Nikki Thai, Bikrampur and Dhaka Thai are some other companies, which have come into the market in recent years.

“It is less capital intensive and matches with our existing product line, such as float glasses,” said Mizanur Rahman, head of marketing of PHP Float Glass and PHP Aluminium, explaining the group’s entry into the business. PHP is producing “premium-quality” aluminium extrusion products.

Aluminium extrusion products like doors, windows, staircase handrails and supports, railings for verandas and corridors have become popular. The use of aluminium in business and office complexes, buildings, theatres as well as decorative purposes is common. Shops built with lighter materials are also consuming aluminium products.

Market players said the advantages of aluminium such as lightweight, strength, corrosion resistance, durability, easy in fabrication, attractive appearance and easy maintenance make it a popular material for use in modern buildings.

“The market is growing at a double digit rate. Scarcity of wooden materials has been prompting buyers to go for aluminium extrusion products,” said SM Sohrab, senior manager, sales of Bangladesh Thai Aluminum (BD Thai), one of the two biggest players in the market.

After KAI Bangladesh Aluminum, BD Thai has the largest share in the market. Chung Hua (former Fu-Wang Aluminum) and Dhaka Thai are other major players.

KAI Aluminum, which started production in 1997 with an annual capacity of 6,000 tonnes, has set up a second plant with over 5,000 tonnes of capacity a few years ago to meet the growing demand.

BD Thai is the oldest company established in 1979 under a joint venture with a Thai businessman. Since then it is known as Thai Aluminum in Bangladesh.

Although the market has been expanding steadily, players are concerned with the quality as some manufacturers are marketing low-cost items.

“Lower end consumers are going for low-cost products, which is very risky,” said a senior official of KAI.

Low-cost items are made of around 1 mm (millimetre) thickness against the standard thickness of minimum 1.5 mm, according to major players.

“We are also making low-cost items in line with the demand,” said a BD Thai official.

sajjad@thedailystar.net

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