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Unilever will invest THB8bn (US$246.6m) to grow its business in Thailand – and the ASEAN region – as part of a three-year investment plan for the market.

The company has targeted growth of “at least two times [the rate of] GDP” in the country. Unilever’s Thai operations also serve as a “global production hub” with access to the ASEAN free-trade region and Unilever operates eight production plants in the country.

Unilever’s growth drive will be supported by five “sustainable business growth strategies”, the local unit of the Anglo-Dutch FMCG giant told just-food.

The company plans to “build brand loyalty” through “constant product innovation” while expanding its digital marketing initiatives to “strengthen the relationship between Unilever, its customers and consumers”. The group will also continue to invest in its production base in the country; “enhance” its relationship with modern trade and traditional retail stores in the market; and invest in developing the skills of its local workforce, Unilever said.

According to newly-appointed chairwoman Supattra Paopiamsap, the investment scheme will “stimulate economic growth” for the benefit of the Thai economy.

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Supattra said: “Our three-year investment plan, from 2014 -2016, is THB8bn which will stimulate economic growth and increase Thai people’s quality of life. With our extensive presence in the country, our growth is certain to help the overall market develop, which will in turn have a favourable economic impact on our customers, our business allies, the national economy and of course ultimately Unilever Thailand.”

Supattra revealed the company’s THB2.6bn new country headquarters are “nearing completion”. Unilever also expects to construct a THB2bn warehouse facility, a new THB1.5bn ice cream cold room and a THB700m expansion to its food processing plant.

“All of these projects are expected to be completed within 2016,” she said.

Thailand is Unilever’s 19th largest global market and the third-largest business in Asia.