Leading Danish shoe manufacturer Ecco was today reported to be about to invest up to $10 million in doubling its production capacity in Thailand over the next three years.

The move is in line with the company's plan to shift production from other countries to take advantage of Thailand#;s lower costs at its plant in Ayutthaya.

The factory#;s annual output will double to six million pairs of shoes by 2005, Kitti Chaiwattanatorn, director of Ecco (Thailand), told the Bangkok Post.

He said the extra output, which comes at the expens of its factory in Portugal, would be sold in the US, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and several European countries.

"After the majority of shoe capacity is moved to Thailand, we could take full advantage of expanding to the retail market by offering Ecco shoes at prices lower than those produced in Ecco's other production sites - Denmark, Indonesia, Slovakia and Portugal," Mr Kitti told the paper.

He added that the company will soon open its first Ecco concept store in Thailand in a department store and planned to open up to 35 similar and standalone outlets over the next few years.