A worker fixes fastening brackets to an e-toilet seat at the factory of Topseat in Anshun, Guizhou province. (Photo:China Daily/Yang Jun)
Topseat's toilet seat covers sell in millions, creating a big opportunity for Chinese firms
From the designs that glow at night to the models that can be used to potty-train kids, made-in-China electronic toilet seat covers are winning the hearts of consumers the world over, particularly in the West.
Chinese commode cover manufacturer Topseat is now selling around 2 million pieces every year globally, netting million, said the company top executive.
Topseat's clients include major home improvement retailers such as US firm Home Depot Inc and Lowe's Cos and Germany's OBI Group and Bauhaus.
Its high-tech toilet seats are also sold on US e-commerce platform Amazon under the Topseat trademark.
"More than 70 percent of our products are exported to Germany and we have taken up more than 60 percent share for the do-it-yourself toilet seat market in Germany, with that for mid-to high-end ones reaching 80 percent," said Wu Dongcheng, president of the company.
"Our toilet seat covers are sold in more than 70 countries, including Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe."
It has been quite a turnaround for the 42-year-old businessman, who set up the toilet seat company in 2003 only as a trial program to boost his resume for a business school application.
In 2003, the company sold the first batch 2,000 toilet seats to an Italian company at each. But now the company's toilet seats are sold at to each in the US market, while the price in the European market is even higher, with some products costing more than 100 euros (7.6).
From its factory in Anshun, a city in Southwest China's Guizhou province, Topseat creates decorative toilet seats from locally sourced, environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo, straw stalks and bio-glues.
Being eco-friendly is a key factor for the company's success in the Western markets, as they are more environmentally concerned, Wu said.
In 2014, the company took the lead to make toilet seat covers from straw stalks to turn this potential environmental hazard into a business opportunity.
Topseat has an agreement with Xiayun township in Anshun, which buys straw stalks from local farmers on behalf of the company.
Sales of toilet seats made of straw stalk are expected to reach more than 200,000 pieces this year. Topseat is negotiating with the World Wildlife Fund to use the WWF logo on its product packaging.
"We aim to increase the sales of straw-made toilet seats to 5 million units annually in the next five years," said Wu.