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Thais have a taste for tablets after flood chaos

Electronics market a curate's egg but outlook is more rosy

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The global supply chain may at last be recovering from widespread floods which hit Thailand at the end of last year but for consumer electronics retailers and manufacturers in the country the market remains pretty unstable, according to the latest figures from market watcher GFK.

The research company revealed today that tablets and TVs have led the recovery, with Q1 2012 sales of the former rising 75 per cent from the previous quarter to surpass $50m (£30.7m).

TVs also sold well, pulling in $244m (£149.8m) as users looked to replace their old sets washed away or irreparably damaged during the floods.

However, things were not as positive in other parts of the market. Volume sales of washing machines, DVD players and recorders, and audio home systems were worst hit, plunging by 20 per cent, 18 per cent and 18 per cent compared to Q1 2011.

In many cases the disappointing sales stem from manufacturers still struggling to recover from the physical flood damage to their operations, GFK said.

However, pent-up consumer demand and heavy promotions from the manufacturers and retailers is helping to drive an overall recovery.

“Thailand’s flooding will have minimal impact on Asia’s retail consumption of digital products as the market is forecast to achieve a 21 per cent overall growth, while non-digital products such as home appliances are predicted to expand by 24 per cent in 2012,” said GFK GM for Thailand, Wichit Purepong.

“Within Thailand, we envisage continued strong performance of the market into year end with key high growth products like tablets, smartphones and TVs will be in the forefront and continue propelling the industry to greater heights.”

When it comes to PCs, analyst IDC predicted last month that sales would begin to creep back to normal but that supply problems would continue to hamper shipments in the country for the first half of the year.

Hard disk drive production was severely impacted when the floods hit last November, with knock-on effects for PC manufacturers like HP and Dell.

However, capacity is returning to normal now, with world number two HDD maker Western Digital posting positive financials last week. ®

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