Discovering a new market


Tortuga Toys is a Spanish toy manufacturer which would like to expand into South-East Asia. The owner has travelled to the area to assess the market for his company's latest product. This lesson examines finance, investment, business forecasting, the stock markets and market research. It also looks at how to make travel arrangements.


Ramon Figueras is the owner of Tortuga Toys. He is Spanish.
Jack Lytton is a teacher at UCLA. He is American.
Receptionist at Thaipro Consultants. She is Thai.
Supa is a marketing consultant at Thaipro Consultants. She is Thai.
Travel agent works for Executive Travel. He is British.
Fred Hagendahl is Director of Marketing at Tumblehome Inc. He is American.


Vocabulary Stock markets; business forecasting; market research; air travel.
Skills Getting information from press cuttings and reports; making travel arrangements.
Documents Press cuttings; a market analysis report; a booking form; a credit card.

Doing some desk research

11.1 Document study

Ramon Figueras works for Tortuga, in Madrid. Tortuga makes toys, and Ramon is looking at the possibility of expanding into South-East Asia. He finds some press cuttings. Read through them, and make a list of 'Good news' and 'Bad news'.

Bangkok catches cold, Tokyo sneezes

Dealers on the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday were cautious in the face of rumours see the meaning that Thai share prices might be threatened by inflation, now running at over 8% and expected to top 9% see the meaning by the end of this year.

see the meaning The Nikkei continued its slow upward trend, closing at 35,289 (up 37 on the day), but the market was bearish see the meaning and expects a downturn. The growing strength of the Thai economy is shown by the fact that its short-term problems can affect the market in Tokyo. This may not, however, be much comfort to Thai finance managers, who struggle to cope with high interest rates, the shortage of skilled labour, and the migration of venture capital to neighbouring countries. see the meaning


Thailand may soon become Toyland if leading US toy retailers Tumblehome follow through their recent announcement see the meaning that they will set up their first South-East Asian subsidiary in Bangkok.

'Continued expansion is built into our company policy,' see the meaning a spokesperson for the company said at a press conference in San Francisco yesterday. 'The Pacific Rim is the flywheel of tomorrow's world economy see the meaning, and South-East Asia is going to be the motor that turns it.'


11.2 Reading for key words

Find the words or phrases in 11.1 that tell you the following:

1 Prices will soon rise more quickly.
2 Share prices are expected to fall.
3 Highly-trained workers are difficult to find.
4 People with money to invest in new business tend to invest it abroad.
5 This company intends to go on growing.
6 The countries around the edge of this ocean will soon be the most productive in the world.

11.3 Document study

Ramon finds another article. Read through it. You will need it for 11.4.

Question mark over Spanish toy firm

Rumours that Spanish toymakers Tortuga of Madrid may be going into liquidation were dismissed as 'utter nonsense' by the firm's founder and chairman, Juan Figueras, last week.

'We struck a bad patch a year ago,' see the meaning he admitted, 'when we failed to keep up with changes in taste and lagged behind on design and marketing. Since then we've invested heavily in new equipment and we've got new blood in the design and management teams see the meaning. Repayments on the new loans aren't due to start for another nine months - by that time I'm confident well be paying our way and back in profit.'

11.4 Listen and read

A month after the article in 11.3 appeared, Ramon's father died and Ramon took over the company. Ramon receives a telephone call from Jack Lytton. Listen to what they say. Who is Jack Lytton? Why has he phoned?

RAMON Ramon Figueras.
JACK Ramon? Jack Lytton here - from UCLA. see the meaning
RAMON Jack! Hi, how are you? Are you in Spain?
JACK No, but I'll get around to it sooner or later, don't you worry. The reason I'm calling is I keep picking up rumours about Tortuga. How are things over there in Madrid?
RAMON Well - it's what in your marketing seminars you used to call 'a very interesting situation'. see the meaning
JACK Oh boy! As bad as that, is it?
RAMON No, it's not all bad. In fact I did this fantastic deal last time I was in California. Let me tell you about it...

11.5 Listen and read

Ramon continues his telephone conversation with Jack Lytton. Listen to what they say. What arrangements does Ramon already have with countries in South-East Asia?

RAMON So, anyway, I'm planning to go to Bangkok in about three weeks to start investigating the market for the Dolphin Commando merchandise in Asia.
JACK Good thinking. I'm glad you learnt something in my classes. Dolphin Commando looks set to take off here see the meaning. Those toy whales look like being the big craze see the meaning for kids see the meaning this fall.
RAMON Yes, I know. We're going flat out here to meet the orders from the big retailers. We've contracted out see the meaning a lot of the manufacturing work to firms in Taiwan and the Philippines, and all the packaging and distribution is being done in Cleveland, Ohio. But when the Asian countries get the programmes beamed to them see the meaning by satellite in the new year, the market's likely to explode overnight.
JACK In that case I'd better get off the line and let you get on with it! I have one or two contacts in Bangkok you might find useful, by the way - I'll dig out their addresses for you.
RAMON Thanks, I'd really appreciate it if you could do that. Well, it's been good talking to you, Jack. I'll speak to you again soon.
JACK Surely. Take care now. Goodbye!

11.6 Document study: an interview

Read this interview about the economy, and then answer the questions that follow.

INTERVIEWER It seems that the economy has struck a bad patch. How do you see the situation developing?
MAN Well, the most serious threat is that of high interest rates plus rising inflation.
INTERVIEWER How do you think companies will cope with this, if they can't afford to borrow?
MAN They simply won't invest. They'll go on using old machinery and equipment. They won't train new labour.
INTERVIEWER But a lot of companies are already lagging behind on capital investment see the meaning, and the venture capital is going abroad.
MAN In that case, when the upturn in the economy does come, they won't be ready for it. They won't be able to meet the increased demand for goods.
INTERVIEWER And if they're not competitive?
MAN The companies will simply go into liquidation.
1 Why can't companies afford to borrow?
2 Why won't companies be able to meet the increased demand for goods?
3 Why will companies go into liquidation?

11.7 Writing practice

Ramon makes brief notes of things he has read and things he has heard in his conversations which might be useful to him. Read the articles in 11.1 and 11.3 again, and listen to 11.5. Now write notes for Ramon. Start with your list from 11.1.


Commissioning a market study

11.8 Listen and read

Ramon telephones a firm of market consultants in Bangkok. Listen to the way that Ramon says only enough to make sure that he is talking to the right person. Notice also how the people in the firm explain exactly what tney can do to help him.

RECEPTIONIST Good afternoon, Thaipro Consultants, can I help you?
RAMON Ah! Hello. I'm thinking of commissioning your company see the meaning to do some market research for me in Thailand. I shall be coming to Bangkok in a week or so, but I wonder if there's someone I could have a word with now?
RECEPTIONIST Yes, I think so. We have several departments here which specialise in different market sectors. Can you give me some idea of what type of business you're in?
RAMON Yes, we manufacture and distribute toys. All kinds of toys!
RECEPTIONIST Oh yes. Hold on, I'll put you through to someone who can help you. Oh! What name shall I say?
RAMON Figueras - Ramon Figueras.
WOMAN Good afternoon, Mr Figrash? How can I help you?
RAMON Oh, good afternoon! My name is Ramon Figueras, I am chairman of...

11.9 Listen and read

The telephone conversation continues. Notice how the woman and Ramon show that they have finished the conversation.

WOMAN Right, Mr Figueras, I look forward to meeting you when you come to Bangkok. If you telephone me a bit nearer the time see the meaning, we'll make an appointment to meet at my office; we're quite central. see the meaning
RAMON Good. And meanwhile I'm looking forward to getting that investment fact-sheet you mentioned. Thank you for your help. Oh! I don't think I have your name.
WOMAN Just ask for Supa - S-U-P-A. If by any chance I'm not in the office see the meaning, my colleague will make the appointment.
RAMON Right, thank you very much indeed, Supa.

11.10 Document study

The following is part of the leaflet on the economy and investment prospects that the consultant, Supa, sent to Ramon. Read through it carefully. Make a list of things that Ramon might think are 'Good', and a list of things he might think are 'Bad', for his company.

The Foreign Investment Outlook in Thailand, 1992-96

Thailand, with its modern infrastructure and services see the meaning, rapidly-expanding young urban population and educated workforce, see the meaning is set for spectacular economic and industrial growth. This is particularly true of textiles, electrical goods and light industrial products such as toys.

Targets and Forecasts for the Sixth and Seventh Plans
(based on official figures and Thaipro research)

  Fifth Plan
Sixth Plan
Seventh Plan
Trade deficit*
Average per year**
As percentage of GDP
Exports: goods
Value (%)
Quantity (%)
Average annual value**
Earnings from tourism*
Value (%)
Imports: goods
Value (%)
Quantity (%)
Average annual value**
Economic growth***
Total production
Expenditure growth***
Private consumption
Private investment
Government consumption
Government investment
Tax revenue and other
income as % of GDP
Population growth (%)
Inflation (%)






















* 1987 prices
** Million baht
*** % annual increase; 1987 prices

Source (1986-91 figures): Thai Government Board of Investment

This strong demand-led growth is projected to continue at least throughout the 1990s and offers outstanding medium-term market prospects to overseas suppliers and investors.

On the manufacturing side, we are conducting a research programme to assess the long-term outlook for overseas companies willing to set up joint ventures see the meaning under Thai business law with local entrepreneurs see the meaning, as well as 100% foreign-owned businesses.
A crucial factor will be the speed with which Thai manufacturers can meet the increasing demand for good design and durability as well as volume of goods. see the meaning Interim findings of this project suggest that large-scale investment will be required and that overseas companies may need to be prepared to take risks and to move fast to exploit windows of opportunity. see the meaning


11.11 Reading for key words: formal and informal language

In her written report, Supa uses more formal language than when she talks to Ramon on the telephone. The phrases below are taken from the report. Write what Supa might say to Ramon to express the same meanings.

1 rapidly-expanding young urban population
2 This strong demand-led growth is projected to continue
3 [it] offers outstanding medium-term market prospects
4 Interim findings ... suggest that large-scale investment will be required

Making a business trip

11.12 Listen and read

Ramon is now in London, booking his flight on to Bangkok. Listen to what he says to the travel agent.

AGENT Right, Mr Figueras - if I can just check the details again: that's a single ticket for one person, club class, from Heathrow to Bangkok, Thai Airways flight TG917, departing Friday 22 May at 1000 hours, reporting at Terminal 3 not later than 0830. And in Bangkok we've made a reservation for you at the Oriental Hotel. This is the total amount payable.
RAMON Right. You take Visa?
AGENT Yes, no problem. It will just take a moment for the machine to check the details. While we're waiting, can I ask you if you need to take out any travel insurance?
RAMON Thanks, I took out a policy before I came to Britain.
AGENT Covering the whole world?
RAMON Yes, world-wide.
AGENT Ah! Right. If you'd just like to sign here.

11.13 Listen and read

Ramon has to change his plans and postpone his flight to Bangkok. The travel agent telephones Ramon to tell him the new details. First read through the dialogue below. Then listen to what they say, and write your answers.

RAMON Splendid! see the meaning What's the airline and the flight number?
AGENT Philippine Airways, (a) .
RAMON Leaving Heathrow what time?
AGENT (b) .
RAMON From Terminal 4?
AGENT No. (c) .
RAMON When does it arrive in Bangkok?
AGENT (d) next morning, local time.
RAMON I see. Am I still in the same hotel?
AGENT No, the Oriental was full, so I booked you into the (e) .
RAMON Oh, right. I may need to ring them. Do you have the phone number? With the dialling code, please. see the meaning
RAMON Thanks. Now, suppose I need to call you again. Is there a booking number I should quote?
AGENT Your booking number is (g) .

11.14 Speaking practice: checking the details

Ramon continues his conversation with the travel agent. First read through the dialogue below. Then listen to what they say. Listen again, and speak the part of Ramon.

AGENT Is that all right, Mr Figueras?
RAMON Fine, thank you. One other thing. I gave you my personal credit card yesterday, and I should have given you my business Visa card.
AGENT Right, that's easy. I can charge that to your business card if you will give me, first, your card number.
RAMON (a) .
AGENT Right. And the expiry date. see the meaning
RAMON (b) .
AGENT Also I need to know the exact name on the card, please.
RAMON (c) .
AGENT Right, that's it then. Your ticket will be ready for collection tomorrow. Thank you, Mr Figueras! Goodbye!

11.15 Listen and read

Ramon is now on his journey from London to Bangkok. Listen to these statements and conversations. Where do you think Ramon is when each voice speaks?

VOICE 1 Your attention please - passengers for flight PR731 to Bangkok, please proceed at once see the meaning to the Departure Lounge. PR731 passengers, boarding now at Gate 4. Please have your boarding cards ready.
VOICE 2 We shall be cruising at thirty-five thousand feet at a speed of four hundred and thirty miles an hour. On behalf of Philippine Airways, may I wish you a pleasant flight.
VOICE 3 Good morning, sir. Would you like a newspaper?
RAMON Er, yes. If you've got a 'Financial Times', I'll take that.
VOICE 4 Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching Bangkok and we shall touch down see the meaning in approximately ten minutes. Please fasten your seatbelts and extinguish all cigarettes. The weather on the ground is cloudy and wet, air temperature twenty-nine degrees. We may encounter a little turbulence on our approach see the meaning, but nothing to worry about.
VOICE 5 Good morning, sir. You are travelling from London?
RAMON Yes, that's right.
VOICE 5 Do you have anything to declare? see the meaning
VOICE 5 Go straight through to passport control and immigration, please. see the meaning

11.16 Listen and read

While he is waiting for a taxi, Ramon is approached by someone. Listen carefully to what they say. Listen to how Ramon cannot at first remember the other person.

MAN Excuse me - aren't you Ramon Figueras?
RAMON Yes, but I'm afraid ...
MAN I knew it. I remember you from college - we were at UCLA together.
RAMON Well yes. I was at UCLA but...
MAN Hagendahl. Fred Hagendahl. I was reading Management Science - you were on the MBA. see the meaning
RAMON Ah, right! Didn't you have something to do with that IBM thing? see the meaning
FRED No, that was Johnson. I was the one who tried to organise the monkeys.
RAMON Of course, I remember. You wanted them to write Shakespeare. see the meaning
FRED That's me. You do remember! You staying in Bangkok? see the meaning
RAMON Yes. At the Shangri-la.
FRED Great. I'm at the Oriental. They're real close to each other. You want to share a taxi? see the meaning

11.17 Writing practice

Ramon decides to add to the notes he made in 11.7, by writing details of what has happened to him since then. Write the details for him in note form.