25 Nov 2005
Joining Forces(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 12,2005)
Vol 12, 2005
Forexim (HK) Ltd
|Apart from kitchenware, Forexim (HK) Ltd offers attractive lighting products that also make excellent gifts|
"We started out making kitchenware items such as coffee pots and graters," recalls K. Y. Leung, managing director of the 1973-established company.
With stainless steel and zinc alloy items now accounting for more than 70% of sales, the firm's stylish kitchenware line includes battery-operated salt and pepper mills, whimsical bird-shaped lemon pressers, sleek oil and vinegar bottles, wine servers and contemporary stainless steel candleholders.
Discussing the firm's line of smart kitchenware, Leung reveals that Forexim works closely with European designers - in Denmark in particular.
"We have a stable of regular designers working with us," he says. "Such international collaboration is good because overseas designers are in a good position to create items highly suited to their markets, things that are distinctly European in appeal."
The designers are usually paid royalties on any items that do make it into production, says Leung, while Forexim's expertise lies in "production and distribution, such as to how to maintain quality, keep costs low and determine lead time".
In the early 1980s, the firm added lighting to its production line, starting with a small pocket lamp. Today, the Forexim lighting catalogue not only showcases pocket lamps, but also general-purpose lamps, spotlights, reading lamps, heavy-duty lamps and the more common handheld torch.
"Our original small flashlight first became popular in France and the former French colonies in Africa. People there still use them, for example school children who set off early in the morning. At peak production we used to sell more than one million pieces year," says Leung.
"The original flat-pack battery unit is no longer easy to buy in some markets, however, so we developed a cartridge that uses three AA batteries to generate the 3.6 volts necessary for operation."
According to Leung, the firm's lighting products must meet two aims. "The first is to make items suitable for our regular buyers. As we are familiar with their requirements, we either develop something unique in-house or else source a special product for them," he says.
The second is to demonstrate to new customers that Forexim can produce flashlights with good operating functions and features in styles not found anywhere else.
Among optional extras are focusing end-bevels and highly luminescent spotlights. "We have a team of five mechanical engineers for R&D and to follow-up OEM projects," adds Leung.
One original design that Leung singles out for mention is a sensor light that can be used in wardrobes or cellars.
"When the door is opened, two sensors are activated and the light is switched on," Leung says. "Another sensor - a passive infrared (PIR) model - detects movement, so when the door shuts or the user moves away, the light automatically switches off."
Apart from regular clients and OEMs, Forexim is also happy to enter into other commercial arrangements. "For example, we developed a powerful handheld flashlight for a Japanese customer who will sell it exclusively in Japan, while we retain the rights to sell elsewhere," says Leung.
The ultimate goal for the company, though, is to manufacture higher-priced products that sell in more up-market outlets. "That is our overall game plan and it is carried over into our complete range of flashlights," he states. "At the retail level, for example, our range is more likely to appear in gift shops than hardware stores, so we present them accordingly, in attractive packaging that reflects their true market value."
Leung also sees a move into the high-end sector as a way to fend off aggressive competitors - a problem endemic at the low-end.
"We realise we may not always be able to match the low prices of our counterparts on the Chinese mainland," he observes. "That's why we have decided not to compete on price but to pay careful attention to detail, ensure zero defects and sell at the mid- to high-end."
It's a game plan that should pay good dividends for this savvy Hong Kong operator.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Forexim (HK) Ltd
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