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Acer eyes 'untapped' rural China as West snaps purse shut

PC-maker plans to make cash by penetrating farmers' market

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World number four PC-maker Acer is focusing on the folk still buying computers and hoping to grow its China sales by 20 to 25 per cent next year.

The Taiwanese firm set up a strategic alliance with Founder Technology last year for that Chinese company to use its trademark on the mainland in an effort to boost its presence there.

"Next year we plan about 20 to 25 percent (sales) growth," Oliver Ahrens, head of China operations, told Reuters.

"The integration with Founder went successfully and we dramatically increased our stake in the notebook business in China," he added.

This year, Ahrens is predicting a 60 per cent growth rate in China sales as the Founder boost makes itself known in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Acer has also been investing in marketing campaigns in the country to help increase its brand recognition.

"We spent over the last two years, this year included, more than $100m in marketing and retail management, so it's a strong investment we made here," Ahrens said.

PC and notebook manufacturers are increasingly looking eastwards as the bottom falls out of the market in the UK, Europe and the US.

Western consumers are still feeling the big squeeze from the global credit crunch and recession and the ongoing unemployment, recent euro crisis and rising living costs are keeping their wallets firmly closed as they anticipate a double dip.

Part of Acer's Chinese push will be to break into rural markets in the country, Ahrens said.

The company forecasts that rural market PC and notebook volume will grow to 35 or 40 per cent of total China volume from 15 per cent now.

The Taiwanese firm plans to invest in distributor networks and marketing structures that will cater for the rural customer, Ahrens added. ®

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