Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories Vol 2, 2010: Supplier Spotlight: Metal Accessories
When times get tough, forward-thinking companies come up with strategies to ensure that they will be in the best possible shape to forge ahead once recovery comes.
That is exactly what metal accessories maker C & K Metal Mfy Ltd has done in the past year — and it is now looking to reap the benefits of its positive actions.
“The financial tsunami affected the business environment last year,” recounts Sales Manager Kathy Lai, adding that the quarter-century-old company responded by revamping three operational aspects in 2009. “We looked at the areas of innovative finishing, product quality and labour regulations.”
The most crucial of these has been the development of new looks for its metal products, which include buttons, snaps, buckles, rivets, eyelets, zipper pullers, pendants and badges for garments, footwear and bags.
“We came up with new finishes that incorporated a wide range of effects including rose gold, titanium, ancient gold, turquoise, glittered epoxy, verdigris brass, contrasted brass, contrasted red copper and gloss black,” advises Ms Lai.
The manufacturer also generated greater design flexibility and variety by increasing the use of pad printing, a technique that allows patterns to be printed on non-flat surfaces.
As such, innovative items were launched in 2009 to good response, spurring C & K to continue to generate new ideas ever since.
“The focus on good design is our strongest point — it is important for us that we not only do OEM but also ODM,” Ms Lai says.
“We are planning to link up with local freelance designers to create even more interesting finishes and shapes, which we can then offer to smaller companies that do not have the resources to develop their own distinctive metal accessories for their products.”
She claims that the company’s clientele also includes major international brands, which tend to use their own designs.
Another part of the 2009 strategy was quality upgrading, and C & K now meets such international regulations as the US CPSIA on lead content and Europe’s REACH and RoHS.
“We have also strengthened our aftersales service,” adds Ms Lai. “We offer technological support to ensure proper use of our products in order to minimise mistakes. Some factories may not have enough knowledge — for example, if they want to use the metal snaps or buttons on fine fabrics, such as silk, we can help them.”
The enterprise has likewise started to provide customers with 3D artwork for approval before producing samples.
“This helps them visualise what the finished product will look like so that they can amend the design before we provide a sample — this saves both time and money as there is less chance of having to remake samples.”
Last year also saw C & K revise the human resources management practices for its Chinese mainland factory to achieve compliance with new local labour regulations.
The three-prong exercise has put the manufacturer on top form. “I expect our sales to grow about 15% or more this year,” says Ms Lai. “Customers did not order as much as usual last year, but now they need to replenish with new items.”
By good design, the future is definitely looking bright for C & K.
Text by Ann Williams
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