OSAKA, Feb. 7 (Kyodo) — Haier Group Corp., a leading Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, plans to establish a research and development center in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, possibly in 2014, company officials said Thursday.

Haier, which last year acquired the white goods consumer electronics division of Sanyo Electric Co., a Panasonic Corp. arm, eyes relocating some functions of an existing refrigerator R&D center in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, to the Saitama center.

The Saitama center will develop a range of white goods other than refrigerators, they said.

At present, Haier employs 180 researchers at Japanese R&D facilities including the Oizumi center and a washing machine development center in Kyoto.

Haier plans to hire researchers who retired from Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers as part of efforts to bolster the size of the research team to around 300.