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Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair draws 30,000 buyers
The Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair 2005 enters its third decade as the largest event of its kind in Asia and the second-largest toy fair in the world. The four-day event attracted some 30,000 buyers across the globe, up 16.3% over 2004.
This year’s fair filled the HKCEC with around 1,900 exhibitors from 35 countries and regions, representing a 5.1% growth.
Buyers hailed from some of the world’s largest and most prominent retailers. Among major buyers this year were Bandai Co Ltd, BHS Limited, Carrefour, El Corte Ingles SA, Hasbro Far East, Idee+Spiel, Karstadt Quelle (Far East) & Co, Kmart Global Sourcing, Mattel Asia Pacific Sourcing, Radioshack Global Sourcing (HK), Sanrio (Hong Kong) Co, Tesco, Tomy Company, Toys ‘R’ Us, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Woolworths Group Asia.
Speaking at the joint opening of the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair and the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair 2005, Jeffrey Lam, chairman of HKTDC Toys Advisory Committee, said: “Product variety is one of the key factors behind a fair’s success, and the Toys and Games Fair has constantly been expanding and adding new products to enrich its merchandising segments and offer buyers additional choices for stocking.”
Lam pointed out that the Hong Kong toys industry has benefited from the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) implemented last year, with certain categories of toys enjoying duty-free status in China.
“With the second phase of CEPA taking effect [at the beginning of this year], allowing more categories to enjoy duty-free access [into China], the industry can only continue to prosper in the year ahead,” he added.
Sophie Leung, chairperson of the commerce & industry panel in the Hong Kong Legislative Council, who was guest of honour at the event’s opening ceremony, maintained that, while Hong Kong’s toy industry occupies a key position in the world, with exports of HK$71.1 billion (US$9.11 billion) in the first 11 months of 2004, the future would continue to be “full of challenges”.
Leung said that Hong Kong has relied heavily on the US market, which accounted for over 40% of the territory’s exports last year. “However, as toy sales in mature markets decline, it is time to [take] our products to emerging markets such as the Untied Arab Emirates, South Africa, Brazil, Russia and the Chinese mainland where we can see double-digit growth.”
She called on the industry to also focus on new and innovative products such as electronic games, which are gaining in popularity over traditional toys.
New and expanded categories at this year’s show have also extended buyers’ choice. The Outdoor and Sporting Items section, for example, has expanded to over 180 exhibitors. The highlights at this section were bicycles as well as gear for ball games, golf, extreme sports, camping, gym and fitness, and watersports.
The Hobby Goods Section, which returned to the show for the third consecutive year and on a bigger scale, saw over 50 exhibitors showcasing models, action figures, puzzles, miniatures, collectibles and so on.
New this year was the Magic Section. Although it had few exhibitors, the section attracted a good crowd with live performances by ‘magicians’ who entertained the audience with novelty magic games and by conjuring up tricks.
Buyers at next year’s toys-and-games show can expect more new sections, said Benjamin Chau, HKTDC’s assistant executive director, at a media briefing. HKTDC will launch a dedicated baby-product section for toy retailers seen to be venturing increasingly into the field.
The council is also looking to introduce a section on candy toys, which are popular in North America and Japan. In the US, candy toys are high-margin items for toy retailers seeking to expand their product lines. Sold in toy shops and convenience stores, these items take up minimum space.
And while a wider product range augurs well for buyers and exhibitors at both the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair and the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair, limited exhibition space poses a problem.
HKTDC is negotiating with the government to expand the HKCEC on both sides of the atrium, said Anne Chick, senior exhibitions manager, HKTDC. If its proposal is approved, construction will start next year. For now, participants will have to make do with the existing space available.
The next Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair and the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair will be held from 10-13 January 2006.