4 Sept 2008
Spoilt For Choice(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 01,2009)
Many Industrial Co certainly believes in living up to its name - the company offers its customers a truly exhaustive array of choices.
Its catalogue includes everything from cute die-cut floral fabric motifs enhanced with beading and ethnic crochet tape accented with sequins to retro-looking ribbon embellished with coins.
"We have more than 1,000 designs on hand to whet the appetite of buyers, and we are always ready to develop what they have in mind or produce according to their specifications," enthuses Manageress Carol Cheung.
She says Many Industrial's wide array of trimmings is not used solely on apparel but also on other fashion items such as bags and shoes, as well as lifestyle and gift products like cushions, lamp shades, photo frames and photo albums. "All our products incorporate a lot of handicrafts, which makes our designs special and is our strength," Ms Cheung assures.
Many Industrial is supported by its joint-venture factories in Guangdong Province, which employ 700 skilled workers. "For some designs we may buy simple, ready-made ribbons from other manufacturers while our skilled labour focuses on the embellishing," Ms Cheung explains. "Sometimes we will also buy stock from ribbon manufacturers, just to provide one-stop-shop convenience to our customers."
However, Many Industrial is facing an increasingly competitive arena and Ms Cheung admits that it is essential that the company innovates its own designs to ensure its offerings are unique.
She cites as an example one of its organza tapes decorated with die-cut floral fabric motifs, which has been the company's best-selling item in its US market over the past five years.
"We are quite amazed as these organza tapes are re-ordered by different customers - some are factories that utilise them on other products while others are importers that put them with other items in DIY kits," Ms Cheung continues.
She points out that design, which used to be more complicated, has recently toned down as customers are becoming more cost-conscious. "Styling and details come first when the market is good, but if it is on the down side price comes first," Ms Cheung explains. "This is especially true for the accessories business as haberdashery usually plays a complementary role."
Many Industrial understands the situation and has worked closely with its customers to work out the best solution for all parties. "We collaborate with our customers to fulfil their requirements whenever they make any special request - I believe this is where our value lies," Ms Cheung says.
She notes that the company has recently come up with a new beaded tape, which, with its enchanting look and attractive price, has become an instant success.
"The beaded tape can be offered at a lower price because we use mesh material which is cheaper, plus our alternative way of stitching the beading also helps to cut costs without affecting the product's appeal," Ms Cheung explains.
Ultimately, she maintains, small enterprises like Many Industrial have an added edge. "Being small, we have the advantage of flexibility," Ms Cheung avers.
For example, if the company finds some designs don't generate a satisfactory response, it can change direction immediately and come up with something new. "This doesn't cost us much time and money because our work is mainly handicrafts, not something done by machinery."
Having the flexibility to handle smaller order quantities has also become important, especially when overseas market economies are not very positive and buyers inevitably have to place smaller orders.
"We show our understanding and willingness to go through difficult times with them by accepting smaller order quantities - I believe this is important for establishing a long-term partnership," Ms Cheung stresses.
This flexible approach has helped the eight-year-old company successfully establish market footholds in the US and Europe, where one-third of its customers are importers and the rest are manufacturers.
"In addition to our website, our major marketing tool is advertising," Ms Cheung advises. "Feedback from advertising in trade magazines has been most encouraging, and we receive a lot of enquiries whenever they are published."
Advertising is especially important to remind buyers of Many Industrial's presence - especially gift items manufacturers who may not purchase from the company regularly.
"Sometimes our products have become popular for enhancing giftware, yet trends come and go - if they recur, we hope our buyers remember us," Ms Cheung concludes.
TEXT BY WINNIE HUI