Fibre King well positioned to capitalise on ASEAN growth
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Regional consumers have become more discerning and sophisticated, leading
to increased demand for more innovative packaging for products across a
wide range of industries. Fibre King is well placed to respond to the
Based in North Brisbane, Fibre King has over 50 years’ experience as a
manufacturer of packaging machines which meet the precise specifications of
businesses. This ranges from pharmaceutical firms to manufacturers of food,
beverage, personal care and fresh produce.
Fibre King’s team includes over 100 designers, engineers, technicians, and
sales, service and support staff, who produce tailor-made packaging
equipment for clients around the world. The company’s focus on bespoke
engineered and manufactured equipment and on-the-ground support
necessitated a global network of installation bases across five continents
to serve its clients.
Making the move to Thailand
Unlike many other manufacturers, Fibre King’s business does not rely on
high-volume production but on high-value, customised automated packaging
equipment tailored to a client’s particular business. This was a major
reason why Fibre King made the decision to establish an offshore operation.
Being located closer to potential new clients in China and the ASEAN region
allowed the company to be more responsive to the demand for increasingly
‘We chose the ASEAN region due to the opportunity presented by a rapidly
growing middle class and the increasing demand for packaged fast moving
consumer goods (FMCG),’ said James Windsor, CEO, Fibre King. ‘This, in
turn, would increase the demand for our advanced packaging machines from
Fibre King selected Thailand’s eastern seaboard as its only manufacturing
centre outside Australia. The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement
played a key part in Fibre King’s decision to locate in the country because
many services and components in their Thai operation come from Australia.
Thailand also offered good ports and internal infrastructure that ensured
reliable supply chains across Asia. Fibre King also cited Thailand’s
one-stop visa service, investment protections and the opportunity to import
duty-free industrial components as additional factors that influenced its
Establishing a successful business
Fibre King’s entry into Thailand’s manufacturing region was conducted in
stages. A smaller factory was initially established in a separate location
which the team used to carry out training and perform a ‘dry run’ for the
high-level coordination that would characterise its forthcoming new
factory. This period was also used to better understand the local business
and regulatory environment and how its cost base would work.
As with any business that makes its first move to an overseas market, Fibre
King quickly found out it needed to understand and learn to overcome common
challenges such as language and cultural differences. Attracting and
retaining high-calibre engineering staff was another focus for the company
given the competition for skilled workers from other local businesses.
Nevertheless, the success that Fibre King has achieved thus far in Thailand
has made all the effort worthwhile. The company has identified new
customers which supported the growth of its Australian business.
‘We have successfully developed a scalable business in Thailand capable of
producing the requisite quality to be a supplier to top-tier companies like
Nestle globally. We have supplied a number of projects to companies in
Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines over the last five years,’ said
Fibre King’s success has led to further plans for expansion. The company is
preparing to enter the Indonesian and Vietnamese markets as part of its
push towards a greater global presence.
Finding the right path
When asked what advice he would give to Australian companies looking to
succeed in ASEAN, Windsor suggested: ‘Don’t underestimate the challenges
posed by the language barrier and cultural differences. Local knowledge is
Companies considering a move to Southeast Asia can benefit from the wealth
of local knowledge and experience of other Australian businesses operating
in the region. Organisations like Austrade, AustCham and local advisory
firms can offer introductions, advice and guidance to help facilitate a
smooth and successful move to the region.
With countries in ASEAN continuing to experience some of the best economic
growth rates in the world, companies like Fibre King that move closer to
their clients will be better-placed to make the most of a golden
opportunity. The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) and bilateral
trade agreements with Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia ensure
Australian companies are well placed to make their mark in the region.
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency. Its Landing Pad program assists Australian scaleups to enter new markets abroad with introductions to strategic stakeholders and tailored business advice. Further information on the Landing Pad program, including how to apply, can be found here.
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