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Japanese piano makers cashing in on boom in China.

HAMAMATSU, Japan, March 31 Kyodo

Yamaha Corp. and Kawai Musical Instruments Mfg. Co., two major Japanese builders of pianos, are posting strong piano sales in China, thanks to a rise of wealthy families in metropolitan areas and middle-class parents sparing no expense for their children's education.

''Demand in China will likely continue to expand in line with an increase in income levels and we hope to expand the market further by reinforcing marketing,'' a Kawai public relations official said.

Chinese consumers bought around 260,000 new pianos last year, accounting for over 60 percent of global sales, according to Kawai.

Both Kawai and Yamaha are expecting their piano sales in fiscal 2011 ending March 31, 2012, to reach more than double that of fiscal 2007, whereas no major growth can be expected in other markets such as Japan and Europe.

The two companies, both based in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, are taking different approaches in tapping demand in China. Yamaha has been introducing lower-priced models, while Kawai has revamped its high-end products.

In China, Yamaha said it is marking strong sales of the YE116, released in June last year, with a price tag set at around 16,000 yuan (210,000 yen, $2,500), roughly 20 percent lower than its similar models targeted at middle-class families, creating competition with local manufacturers offering pianos in the 150,000 yen range.

Yamaha estimates it has around 17 percent of the Chinese market, the second-biggest share after a local manufacturer. The company said it is planning to develop models specifically targeted at the Chinese market.

Kawai has overhauled its top of the line Shigeru Kawai grand piano series and rolled them out in February. Kawai said it is hoping to enhance its reputation as a luxury brand.

It said it is expecting replacement demand for 700 units in three years.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Apr 2, 2012
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