COPENHAGEN, March 22 (Reuters) - Danish jewellery maker Pandora officially inaugurated a new crafting facility in Lamphun near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand on Wednesday.
* The facility has halved the production time for a standard piece of jewellery to four weeks, mitigating earlier challenges delivering new designs to the stores fast enough
* The facility, which was finished in October, will employ up to 5,000 people when fully utilized at the end of next year, Pandora said in a statement
* It is part of a programme designed to double the production capacity compared to 2016 to more than 200 million pieces of jewellery a year by end-2020.
* Pandora will in total invest 1.8 billion Danish crowns ($261.1 million) in the programme, which also includes a new facility in Bangkok and optimisation of existing facilities in Bangkok
* Thailand has granted Pandora eight years of tax exemptions related to the new facilities in Lamphun and Bangkok, Pandora said in its third-quarter report last year
* Pandora said last month that it expects a 13-18 percent increase in revenues this year, down from a 21.5 percent rise last year. ($1 = 6.8948 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Teis Jensen, editing by Terje Solsvik)