SINGAPORE Consumer goods maker Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) signed a joint venture deal with Myanmar's Europe and Asia Commercial Co Ltd (EAC), combining their home and personal care businesses to accelerate sales in a newly emerging market.
The joint entity, with annual sales of more than 100 million euros (84.75 million pounds), will provide both companies with a complementary portfolio, better rural reach and economies of scale, said Unilever, which entered the Myanmar market in 2010.
The venture has a goal of tripling sales to 300 million euros by 2020, Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever's president for southeast Asia and Australasia, told Reuters.
EAC, whose products include detergent and dishwashing liquid, will also help add to Unilever's manufacturing capabilities.
"We felt that maintaining organic growth alone will take us far, but not as far as joining forces with EAC," he said.
"We have a factory there that produces shampoos, haircare products, and we believe that with this joint venture, we will be able to produce the rest of our personal care range in the country," Sigismondi said in an interview at Unilever's regional headquarters in Singapore.
Global companies have lined up to take advantage of an under-penetrated market in Myanmar, buoyed by the growing middle class and a rise in spending.
The Asian Development Bank forecast Myanmar's economy, which has been opening up after decades of military dictatorship, to grow at 7.7 percent this year - the fastest among southeast Asian countries.
Sigismondi said Unilever, which sells products such as Clear shampoo, Signal toothpaste and Rexona deodorants in Myanmar, might explore exporting products from the country.
(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)