ARNHEM, the Netherlands - CEO Hans Wijers has outlined Akzo Nobel's determined ambition to become the number-one coatings company in China. Firmly established as a key strategic market, expansion in China is fundamental to the CEO's vision for future growth.

While in Asia to officially open the company's new Decorative Coatings facility in Suzhou near Shanghai, Wijers - who also opened a factory in Vietnam last month - said that although Akzo Nobel already commands strong leadership positions in several industrial market sectors, consolidation and further expansion of the decorative activities in China will play a substantial role in helping to establish the company as the country's major coatings force.

The new plant, which will produce waterborne wall paints, also includes R&D facilities and a warehouse for raw materials and finished goods. It stands on the company's existing Suzhou site, where Coatings already operates plants for its Car Refinishes, Powder Coatings and Coil Coatings businesses.

"We have systematically increased our coatings activities in China over the last few years," added Wijers. "Indeed, our total sales there have increased by nearly 400 percent since 1998. There is huge potential for Akzo Nobel to benefit from further growth opportunities. By continuing to invest in China, we are clearly progressing with our strategic growth plans and delivering on our commitment to actively pursue expansion opportunities, particularly in emerging markets."