ARNHEM, The Netherlands - Akzo Nobel formally announced the opening of its new non-stick coatings production facility in Dongguan City in southern China, marking the start of operations at a plant that produces non-stick coatings primarily for the rapidly growing cookware industry in China.

The plant also will supply coatings for a range of specialized industrial applications, including automotive-engine pistons and copier rollers. The plant, which currently employs 30 people in production, research and development, technical service, and sales, is located adjacent to a wood-coatings plant opened by Akzo Nobel in 2001.

Rudy van der Meer, member of the Akzo Nobel Board of Management responsible for Coatings, said the opening of the plant represents "another example of our sustained efforts to grow the global position of our non-stick coatings, and of the Coatings group's long-term commitment to the Chinese market." Van der Meer noted that the plant brings the company closer to international customers that have moved production to China in recent years.

Bill McPherson, general manager of Akzo Nobel Powder Coatings, which includes the Non-Stick Coatings business, said China has become the biggest market for non-stick applications on cookware, bakeware and electrical appliances. "A strong link between our non-stick organizations in the United States and China is crucial for the growth of our Chinese business since business in China is conducted according to international specifications," McPherson said.

Akzo Nobel Coatings operates six production sites in China, involving all key Coatings businesses. The plants are located in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Shenzhen, Ningbo and Dongguan City. The Coatings group, which employs more than 1,600 people in China, has experienced an increase in sales to more than 200 million euros in 2002, stemming from organic growth and selective acquisitions.