The paint industry has continued its sound growth in recent years thanks to a rise of consumption in semi-urban and rural areas boosted by consumers' increasing purchasing power and move towards diverse and premium products.
In 2015, the size of Bangladesh's decorative paint market was about Tk 2,550 crore, according to a number of paint manufacturers and Bangladesh Paint Manufacturers Association (BPMA). Average growth was around 8 to 10 percent in the last five years. At present, annual consumption stands at about 120,000 tonnes.
“The sector is growing at a healthy pace, but there is still huge room for growth,” said MA Rahman, vice-president of BPMA, which has 33 paint manufacturers as its members. He cited per capita paint consumption in Bangladesh as the lowest in the region.
Some 40 companies operate in the country. Among them, 10 to 12 companies contribute nearly 85 percent to the market. Bangladesh is largely dependent on foreign multinationals which meet about 90 percent of the demand.
Berger Paints (BD) Ltd is the market leader. Other national major companies are Asian Paints, Roxy Paints, Elite Paints, RAK and Pailac Paints. Moon Star Paints & Chemical Ind. Ltd, Nazrul Brothers Paint Industries (Ujala Paint), and Al-Karim Paints & Chemicals Ltd have strong presence in certain regional markets.
Recently the market has experienced the entry of global players such as Akzonobel from the Netherlands, Nippon Paint from Japan and Jotun Paints from Norway.
The sector is expected to grow by 10 to 12 percent per annum as there is scope for increase in consumption backed by economic growth, according to a note of Berger Paints.
Md Nazrul Islam, general manager for sales and marketing of Chittagong-based Moon Star Paints & Chemical Ind. Ltd, said the demand of paints largely depends on the overall economic activities in the country.
He said the paints sector faced troubles in recent years because of the slowdown in the real estate sector.
As the real estate sector has started to tide over the slowdown in recent months, the demand for paints is also growing, said Islam.
Islam said his company is exploring opportunities in new areas such as industrial and marine paints.
Mahadi Hasan Chowdhury, senior brand manager of Roxy Paints Ltd, said the demand is growing as more and more housing and industrial projects are being taken up across the country.
He said companies are bringing in new types of paints that can be used at hospitals and other colour sensitive areas. Paints are even being used to douse fire whenever a fire incident happens.
Key products that hold the major market shares are: plastic emulsion, distemper, outer coat (weather proof), synthetic enamel, etc.
Plastic emulsion and distemper are close substitutes of each other. Emulsion is basically used in high-end residence all over the country and distempers are economy class products having a demand in semi-urban and rural markets. Weather coat is growing very fast and presently holds a significant market share.
The paint Industry is playing an important role in the infrastructure development of the country by ensuring protection to fixed assets.
The protection enabled by the paint coatings contributes to the longevity of the structure, resulting in GDP growth of the country.
MA Rahman said there is a misconception in Bangladesh that paint is a luxury item. “It is a necessary item.”In developing countries, annual cost of corrosion amounts to nearly 2 to 3 percent of GDP, which is caused due to lack of protection of infrastructure like buildings, roads, highways and bridges, vehicles and shipping vessels, industrial structure and machinery, etc, according to Berger Paints. “So, we have to paint our structure properly,” said Rahman, the managing director of Anchor Paint Industries (Pvt.) Ltd.
Industry people also point to 5 percent supplementary duty (SD) for the slow growth of the consumption. They say the SD is not acceptable as by painting the structures, be it houses or industries, people are actually elongating the longevity of the structures and thus contributing to national savings.
A number of sector people also said the government should take steps so small manufacturers can survive in the face of entry of a number of multinational companies and imports.
The writer is senior correspondent, The Daily Star.