Yamazaki Mazak of Japan, the world’s biggest maker of machine tools, is projecting a 15 per cent increase in sales this year on the back of strong global demand, led by Europe.

Tomohisa Yamazaki, president of the family owned company, said the projected increase in revenues would come on top of a 20 per cent rise in sales last year which took the total in 2006-07 to about Y240bn (about $2bn).

“Europe has been a good market for us [in the past two years] and we think the trend will continue,” Mr Yamazaki told the Financial Times.

Yamazaki’s sales growth in Europe – which accounts for about 30 per cent of its sales – has been robust due to strong investments by customers in Germany in production equipment.

“German orders started to pick up in April last year and have kept going,” Mr Yamazaki said. “German industry has had its problems but in the past 18 months has got its act together.”

Yamazaki’s computerised machines sell for up to $1m and are used for cutting metal in industries such as aerospace, cars and general engineering.

Its machines are used in the manufacture of everything from gear-box casings to turbines.

Mr Yamazaki said that while investment in machine tools in Japan in recent years had been relatively weak, he saw signs of a recovery this year, especially in the automotive industry.

Orders and sales growth in the US had been strong, he said, though sales in this country “may now have reached a peak”, coinciding with signals that overall manufacturing growth in the US may be starting to slow.

Yamazaki’s sales in China – which accounts for 10-12 per cent of its revenues – were “still growing very fast”, while India represented an expanding market for the company’s machines.

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