4 May 2007
Well Knit(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 05,2007)
|Springair Knitting Co Ltd, established in 1995, is a manufacturer of high-quality apparel|
The firm is a manufacturer of high-quality apparel. "We make knitwear for men, women and children - everything from fashion statements to classic styles," says managing director David Yu. "We also produce 'plus' and 'petite' sizes per customers' orders."
Yu has been engaged in knitwear and garment manufacturing for almost 30 years, having worked for the former state-owned factory since the 1970s. He was later involved in key management when the business was launched as a private enterprise.
With a wealth of experience and a long-established presence in manufacturing and exporting, Springair specialises in providing quality knitwear to such international brands and outlets as Hugo Boss, Bloomingdales, Max Studio, Peek and Cloppenburg, Cache Cache and Zara among others.
The company's major business is in OEM and ODM contracts, while it also offers its own collection. Currently, France and Germany form the dominant markets, where Springair sells to major chain/department stores. "For example, Cache Cache has 80 stores across France while Marco Polo in Germany has 50 outlets," Yu notes.
The firm's best-selling items are cashmere or wool mix lines with spandex cardigans and sweaters. However, items of ladies' fashion knitwear tend to dominate the company's showroom and catalogue - everything from casual to eveningwear.
Yu comments that sweater dresses and more feminine designs featuring natural fibres should be popular in 2007 as he has customers making constant requests for such items. Unsurprisingly, this upcoming trend is also reflected in the company's new catalogue.
"To ensure our designs and quality follow the global fashion trends, we employ a French designer based in France. This is why our fancy and elegant lines for ladies are well-accepted across Europe, particularly in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain," Yu says. "We also export to Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, the US and Canada."
Production takes place at four factories located in different cities in Zhejiang Province, each with a full strength quality control department. The combined floor area of the factories is 15,000 square metres, with a workforce of some 2,000. The 1,100-square-metre head office in Hangzhou acts as sales office and showroom.
"The city of Hangzhou has a long history in textile and knitting in China," says Yu. "We are proud to have inherited the traditional techniques and we are always concerned with the quality of materials and workmanship."
He states that Springair has 1,000 sets of flat knitting machines, with the capability to produce knitwear in gauges ranging from 1.5-16GG, with most items specialised in the 12-14GG range.
"Our production plants are able to supply a wide range of orders at competitive prices. Two of our factories are ISO 9002-certified, while the merchandise made by all four factories passes standard test requirements from customers such as Macy's of the US."
Other than single jersey, plain knits and yarn-dye stripes, Springair offers jacquard and intarsia knits with its facilities available for printing, beading and machine embroidery.
The firm's annual turnover reaches some US$50m, achieved via a monthly capacity of 120,000 garments. Production lead time is 45-50 days from order confirmation, depending on product styling, and Springair requires a minimum order of 500 pieces. Sampling is usually 7-10 days.
Yu informs, "We use both local and imported yarns. Other raw materials include cotton, viscose, acrylic, nylon, silk, cashmere and spandex, while we also make to suit a customer's yarn requirements."
According to Yu, the firm's R&D team will continue to emphasise improving Springair's marketability. "For example, we apply new spinning technology to create knitwear that is light, soft and smooth," he says. "This gives an important element of comfort and super softness to garments for all seasons."
With an eye on the mid- to high-end department stores, and to maximise its networking strengths, Springair has also established a sales office in the UK. "Our promotion strategy is to keep a uniformly stylish and unique image for the company," Yu says.
Conceding that the garment manufacturing industry has suffered from worldwide economic difficulties, Yu notes that consumer markets are recovering. "To strengthen our competitive ability, diversification and flexibility are vital," he asserts. "We don't sit and wait for the tide, and we are always on the lookout for new sources, for both new customers and potential selling items. In the meantime, we will keep up our tight quality control."
It is this continual assessment of customer needs that ensures Springair stays at the forefront of the knitwear industry.
TEXT BY SHIRLEY LOK
Springair Knitting Co Ltd