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Toyota diversifies into homes for elderly

Toyota Tsusho Thailand Co, a trading unit of Japan’s Toyota Group, is diversifying into property with plans to develop a mixed-use complex to help cater to Thailand’s ageing population.

The company is looking for partners to develop the project, said president Kiyoyoshi Oba.

Mr Oba said Thailand’s ageing population is similar to the demographic situation in Japan, providing an opportunity for the company to introduce innovative products and services here.

The project, to be located somewhere in Bangkok, will be brought before the parent firm for approval soon.

Toyota Tsusho has been involved in myriad trading business in Thailand for 60 years, mainly in heavy industries such as metals, chemicals, electronics and machinery.

Mr Oba said it needs a local partner engaged in the real estate sector to develop the site and another Japanese partner that can offer technical support and facilities catering to senior citizens, while Toyota Tsusho will manage the complex.

The complex will provide full accommodations and services not only for elderly people, but the disabled. The preliminary plans include serviced apartments, a clinic or even a hospital.

The executive declined to give the investment value of the project, saying it is still in the planning phase, but such a project will be the first of its kind in the Thai market, garnering high demand due to Thailand’s imminent demographic changes.

The World Bank reported last year that the Thai population is ageing rapidly. As of 2016, 11% of the Thai population (about 7.5 million people) are 65 years or older, compared with 5% in 1995.

By 2040, it is projected that 17 million Thais will be 65 years or older — more than a quarter of the population. The National Economic and Social Development Board also reports that nearly one-third of Thailand’s population will be over 60 years old by 2031.

This shows huge business potential for Toyota Tsusho to branch out into health and wellness in Thailand, he said.

The Jaovisidha family holds a 51% stake in Toyota Tsusho Thailand, while Japan-based Toyota Tsusho owns the rest.

About 80% of the joint ventures sales came from automotive products.

To continue on a path of sustainable growth, the company will also diversify into consumer products next year.

“We see business opportunities to expand into consumer products because Thai people seem increasingly welcome to Japan in every regard, from food to culture. Japan is also one of the most popular tourist destination for Thais,” he said.

Anujtha Jaovisidha, general manager of Toyota Tsusho Thailand’s accounting and finance department, said the company will organise “Toyotsu Japan Festival” from July 29-30 at Royal Paragon Hall as part of its celebration for the company’s 60th anniversary in Thailand.

The fair will feature over 120 booths to exhibit products from Japan for which the company wants to get a foothold in the Thai market, including Nishikawa mattresses, Sugahara glassware, 10 Mois organic baby products, WA Theatre organic fruits and Tachikichi ceramics, on top of several Japanese restaurants.

The company expects to generate 30-40 million baht in sales from the two-day event.

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