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Successful debut for Hong Kong’s Summer Sourcing Show 2004
Following its successful debut last month, the Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware & Toys joins the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's portfolio of popular trade fairs. Suzanne Loh was at the event to check out its highlights.
Following the overwhelming support from exhibitors and buyers at the debut of the Summer Sourcing Show last month, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has pronounced its post-SARS consolidated gifts and houseware event a success.
Held in Hong Kong from 5-9 July 2004, the show drew 1,317 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions. More than 50% of these participants made their debut appearance at an earlier HKTDC fair this year.
The Summer Sourcing Show attracted 22,663 local buyers while HKTDC’s global promotion campaign had helped to bring in 10,625 overseas buyers, including 60 trade missions. The Chinese mainland registered the highest number of buyers, followed by Japan, Taiwan and the US.
Said Anne Chick, senior exhibitions manager, HKTDC: “We try to strike a balance between exhibitor and buyer numbers to ensure that the needs of our exhibitors are fully met. We also rely on overseas missions to give us suggestions on the kind of products buyers are looking for at the show. This helps exhibitors to offer something relevant to buyers’ needs.”
Jeffery Lam, chairman of the inaugural show’s organising committee, said the timing was important in today’s fast-changing business environment, where buyers and manufacturers need to react quickly to the demands of the marketplace.
He said: “The Summer Sourcing Show also gives buyers an opportunity to source and place orders for popular items for the Christmas season.
“With increasing synergy between the toy, houseware, gift and premium markets, buyers could enjoy convenient one-stop sourcing opportunities while exhibitors launching their latest lines and products could meet multiple buyers.”
Foreign companies taking their products to Hong Kong as a prelude to entering the mainland Chinese market were also able to leverage the accompanying 3rd Licensing Show to introduce their brands for licensing to Hong Kong companies.
“Hong Kong companies are generally well established in the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) and original design manufacturing (ODM) businesses. Many of them are now working very hard to [set up] their own design houses through licensing from wholly-owned companies,” said Lam.
Most importantly for Hong Kong, the July show consolidated the economy’s three key industries, which constituted 15.4% of total exports last year — gifts accounted for almost HK$152 billion (US$19.5 billion), houseware more than HK$14 billion and toys more than HK$70 billion. The majority of these exports went to the US and European markets.
Cliff K Sun, chairman of the Hong Kong Exporters’ Association (HKEA), said the territory’s products remained competitive because of low production costs, a broad range of low- and high-end items, as well as strong design appeal and creativity.
“While most manufacturers take the lead in OEM business, they are shifting to ODM or even OBM (original brand manufacturing) business to stay ahead of the competition by strengthening design capability, adopting advanced technology and brand building,” said Sun.
Among pertinent examples are Manley Toys Limited and Gerber Far East 1959 Ltd, two of the 12 manufacturers featured in the show’s special Treasure Island category for Hong Kong’s elite products.
Manley Toys, which has been on the global and domestic toy scenes for more than 30 years, is able to keep its products competitively priced yet cater to broad customer needs.
Said its sales and marketing supervisor, Cana Lee: “We have design teams based in Los Angeles, USA, and Hong Kong that come up with new product lines annually. This enables us to produce toys that are safe, educational and fun — elements that are essential in the global toy business.”
Manley Toys’ booth displayed an expansive product range, including footballs and baseballs that could calculate ball speeds; a ‘Think Big’ game series, designed to stimulate mental skills; and an outdoor water-sport series comprising inflatable pools, sprinklers and water gun.
Gerber Far East, an OEM company that makes gift items like porcelain tableware, ceramic items, glassware and kitchenware, established exclusive manufacturing agreements at the Summer Sourcing Show with reputable brand owners worldwide.
Besides producing tableware under an exclusive licensing agreement between its principal in Germany and Walt Disney Company, Gerber Far East is also creating a porcelain line of over 100 designs for a Greek company to mark this year’s Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
“Each piece of our tableware is intricately designed, [complete] with a gift box, as our company believes that design and packaging are increasingly important in the global gift market. That is why we are working closely with designers from the EU and the US to catch up with the latest innovations,” said Elaine Fu, marketing executive of Gerber Far East.
“Naturally, this collaboration with foreign designers helps us to meet specific consumer needs in different markets. For tableware, for instance, European consumers prefer elegant designs while American customers are bolder in taste,” she said.
Both Manley Toys and Gerber Far East clinched deals at the show from new and repeat customers from Asia, Europe and the US.
Other Hong Kong exhibitors under the HKEA umbrella at the event did just as well.
Kip Hup Metal & Plastic Factory Ltd, for example, completed a deal with a Japanese company which bought five 20ft containers of its stainless-steel cookware, made to ISO standards.
Hip Lik Packaging Products Fty Ltd, a 35-year-old OEM company that makes clear packaging, also enjoyed encouraging demand for its products from all industrial sectors. “Every product of every industry needs clear packaging, which is why we are always exhibiting locally and overseas,” said William Suen, Hip Lik’s general manager.
‘There is always a lot of interest in our products from manufacturers of gifts, toys and housewares in our biggest market, the US, as well as Europe and, of course, locally,” he added.
Chinese mainland companies that gained business at the show included Shantou Big Tree Toys of Guangdong Province. Shantou Big Tree Toys, which manufactures 90% of Guangdong’s toy exports, inked more than 10 deals with retailers and wholesalers in the Middle East, Europe, the US, South Africa, South America and Singapore.
“One of the strongest elements of our toys is that we are able to offer the same quality for products made in the West at a much more affordable price. Thanks to efforts to make ourselves known in international trade fairs like the Summer Sourcing Show, we are now able to liaise directly with many big-time, overseas-based customers,” said the company’s CEO, Allen Lin.
Li Zhuo Ming, vice-chairman and secretary-general of Guangdong Toy Association, hailed the province as China’s most productive toy exporter. To date, Guangdong Province’s export volume to the US and Europe — traditionally the world’s largest toy markets — fall within the 60%-70% range.
“Our toys in Guangdong are selling well because of low costs in capital, raw material and labour. The technological skills in our factories have also improved over time and we are always making efforts to catch up with the latest changes in global consumer trends for toys,” he said.
Other giftware exhibitors from China showcased products specially designed to tastes in the US and European markets, where the demand for premium gifts is high, compared to China’s.
For example, Fujian’s Quanzhou Creative Group Corporation makes ceramic and dolomite pots that last, unlike many terracotta garden pots which are brittle and break easily.
Said its sales coordinator, Doreen Teo: “Our management team travels frequently to the US, Russia and Germany, our main export markets, to gather information on their latest designs for these items.”
Another Chinese exhibitor, Passion Art International Co Ltd, which has a 100,000sqm factory in Fujian Province and five branch factories elsewhere in China, has expanded its handcrafted product lines from wooden photo frames and small rattan items (like trays, boxes, screens and chests) to iron and glass products.
The company signed approximately 10 deals with companies from Spain, the US, Germany and the Middle East.
And from Taiwan came Doall Service and Taiwan’s Gift & Houseware Exporters’ Association, which brought 114 companies. They were pleased that their high expectations of the quality of HKTDC’s shows were met.
“This fair is a second golden opportunity, following the April fairs, for our exhibitors to promote their products [bearing] new ideas that are still fresh in their life-cycle. Many visitors to our exhibitor booths were repeat customers from Europe and the US,” said Frank Lin, director of Doall Service.
Danny Lin, general manager of Taiwan-based OEM company Fancy Acrylic Co Ltd, observed that HKTDC’s previous shows had grown in exhibition space and visitor numbers over the years.
“Although there were fewer visitors [at the July event] than at other HKTDC shows, most of them were genuinely interested in looking for new orders at the show,” he added.
Even first-time exhibitors in Hong Kong such as the creative manufacturers from Thailand’s local communities reported a considerable number of contracts and enquiries from Hong Kong, European, Australian and US buyers at the One Tambon One Product (OTOP) pavilion.
Among the Thai exhibits that were not at this pavilion was ‘Dig-it-up!’, a palaeontological excavation kit, comprising a fossil embedded in a plaster block, which drew interest from buyers from Australia and New Zealand. The product has been selling well in Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe, Germany, the UK and the US.
The activity involves chipping away at the plaster with a hammer and chisel to get the embedded fossil parts out and assemble them. “It trains the child’s mind to be more focused, and can be equally stimulating as an adult hobby,” said Ingrucha Sornsri, export sales and marketing manager, DigItUp Export Co Ltd.
Business was equally brisk for Vietnamese and Philippine exhibitors. Some companies in the Vietnam pavilion bagged orders from European buyers from Day One.
Encouraged by the positive visitor response, Cebu Gifts, Toys & Houseware Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association from the Philippines expressed hope to return with a bigger delegation at the next Summer Sourcing Show.
On the whole, buyers were not disappointed with their finds.
Impressed with the range of Hong Kong-product exhibits was Raymond Teo, general manager of Parkson Corporation Sdn Bhd, Malaysia. Parkson was considering sourcing directly from these companies and retailing some of their collections exclusively.
“We have 30 Parkson Stores in Malaysia and will be opening an upmarket 215,000sqf flagship store in Kuala Lumpur [where] Hong Kong’s great designs will certainly be gracing the shelves,” Teo said.
Tony Tang, China’s deputy division chief-licensing, marketing department, Beijing Organising Committee for the Games of The XXIX Olympiad, found the Summer Sourcing Show well organised, with clear product zoning and good all-round services.
“We are interested in outdoor sporting goods and household items, and have found some that are good in the choice of material, design and quality. The XXIX Olympiad will be bringing a lot of business opportunities to Hong Kong companies as they are well versed in international trade, and strong in both design and marketing,” said Tang.
And sentiments were also upbeat at the built-in Procurement Centre for Japanese Buyers, where Japan’s 15-company buying delegation and other visitors met 16 Japanese importers and manufacturers.
Taka Tohyama, director of product-development department, Toys “R” Us-Japan Ltd, said the July timing was right as it gave him a chance to meet vendors, view their products and discuss these in greater detail.
Leo Watanabe, project manager, R&D department, toys and games division, Combi Corporation, said the fair was crucial to his company, which sources almost 98% of its products from China’s manufacturers.
“In the Chinese mainland where there are thousands of manufacturers, it is not so easy to just pick up the phone and call around to find a supplier. Quality is very important for the Japanese market and the fair gives us a chance to meet sales teams or senior executives and to see some of their products,” said Watanabe.
With all that positive feedback at its debut, HKTDC’s Summer Sourcing Show looks forward to serving global business needs for toys, gifts and houseware again from 5-8 July in 2005.