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Piano makers ride musical surge in China

Yang Yang
Updated: Nov 30,2014 3:16 PM     China Daily

China, the world’s largest producer of pianos, has an output of 376,000 units in 2013, almost 80 percent of the world’s total.[Photo/Xinhua]

376,000 pianos produced by China in 2013-80 percent of the world’s total-making it the world’s largest producer of pianos.

A growing number of families in China are able to afford a piano and lessons for their children. In 2013, the ownership of pianos had grown to three pianos for every 100 urban households, according to a report by marketresearchreports.biz, and the number is expected to rise to four by 2020. But there is still a big gap between China and developed countries (20 to 30 pianos per 100 households) in terms of piano ownership, which means there is still great potential for growth, the report concluded.

Not surprisingly, China is now the world’s largest producer of pianos. The output for 2013 reached 376,000 units, almost 80 percent of the world’s total. Meanwhile, the country imported 100,000 units in 2013.

And since 2002, domestic manufacturer Pearl River Piano has been the largest piano manufacturer in the world. In 2013, it produced 136,000 pianos, claiming a 35-percent share of the domestic market and a 25-percent share of the international market.

To further increase revenue, the company has invested 77.2 million yuan ($12.3 million) in the construction of plants to produce digital musical instruments with an annual production capacity of 103,000 units, including 60,000 digital pianos.

The increasing number of children learning the piano has also led to a steady growth in imports, with a compound annual growth rate of 29.3 percent from 2008 to 2013.

This year is the 10th year Steinway & Sons, one of the world’s most famous piano makers, has expanded its business in China.

In October, Steinway & Sons upgraded its Shanghai branch to be the headquarters of the company’s Asia-Pacific businesses. A BBC report found that driven by parents buying pianos for their young children, nearly half of the company’s sales come from some Asian countries like China. In 2013, Steinway & Sons saw its global piano revenue grow by 3.6 percent year-on-year to $220 million. Its revenue in China reached $15.6 million that year, up 21.3 percent compared with 2012.

Bluthner from Germany, one of top luxury piano makers in the world, entered the Chinese market in 2005 and in May 2006, it opened its first factory in China in Guangzhou. Five year later, the annual output had reached 5,000 units, growing at the speed of 1,000 units a year. But in the last two years, the growth speed of annual output decreased, due to the slowdown of China’s economy and the drop in demand.

The output for 2013 was 6,000 units. Eighty percent of the products go to the domestic market. In 2011, Bluthner invested $19 million in another plant in Guangzhou to expand its production capability and upgrade its products. So far, Bluthner has 40 dealers nationwide, up from 28 in 2012.

With an investment of 2.4 billion yuan, Bluthner’s new plant in Hengshui, Hebei province is in construction. The new plant, covering an area of 400,000 square meters, will provide timber and parts for the company’s production in China.

In October, Bluthner signed an agreement to invest $75 million in Qingdao to build a plant that will be used to produce high-end Irmler pianos.

But Fang Yang, general manager of Bluthner (China) Co Ltd, said the year 2014 is a relatively difficult year due to the slowdown of China’s economy.

“However, China, as the world’s biggest piano producer and market, has a huge potential for Bluthner,” he said.

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