Scientific instrument maker moves key business centre to China


Hepeng Jia/Shanghai, China 

In the midst of a financial crisis that has cut corporate profits dramatically, scientific device maker Thermo Fisher Scientific is moving one of its key business centres to China. 

Marc Casper, executive vice president of Thermo Fisher, announced at on 30 March that the global headquarters of the firm’s Environmental Instrument Division (EID) will move to Shanghai. 

’This is the first such move in the [international instrument and device] industry,’ says Casper. ’The fast developing Asian market has made us move closer to the customers’ demands.’ 

Despite the economic slump, Thermo Fisher’s profit grew 13 per cent to US$1.38 billion in 2008. Asian markets, particularly China and India, have contributed significantly to its growth. 



The company only took eight months in 2008 to realise its annual sales growth target in China of 25 per cent. Since 2002 Chinese sales in the company’s EID business have grown seven-fold, with the growth rate surpassing 50 per cent in 2008.     

Chinais very likely to topple Germany to become Thermo Fisher’s second largest market for overall businesses in 2009, after the United States, according to Casper.    

Syed Jafry, former president of Thermo Fisher China, is promoted to head its global EID. ’We moved headquarters to China because we believe China and Asia offer tremendous growth potential in air monitoring and water quality control. We are confident that with almost 12 new nuclear plants being built in China over the next three years, we have a great opportunity to position our radiation monitoring products in these operations,’ Jafry told Chemistry World. 

With the relocation, three of Thermo Fisher’s nine manufacturing facilities will be based in Asia - in Shanghai, Singapore, and Malaysia - with expansion at its Shanghai factory and enhanced local development efforts. 

’We are focusing more on understanding the local needs of our customers in China so we can react quickly in making decisions about new products for the Chinese market,’ says Jafry. 

Despite the growth potential, Jafry admitted there are huge challenges facing the company. One of these is differing product standards in China to Western countries - environmental devices meeting Chinese standards would face additional regulations if they were to be introduced to Western markets. 

’We are working closely with the government departments to help make them aware of the popular criteria in the world, such as those developed by the [US] EPA [Environmental Protection Agency],’ Jafry says. 

The fact that China has joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) will help the company in this respect, as one of the WTO’s key aims is to unify product standards across different countries.