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A Fast-Moving Fair(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 04,2006)

Hong Kong International Stationery Fair 2007

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Hemant Chauhan has three excellent reasons why he rates the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair so highly on the exhibition calendar.

"We like the level of organisation and comfort at this fair, the displays and the broad range of goods, but mostly we like the prices we have found," says the Indian buyer, an Ankur Reves Pvt Ltd director and a first-time visitor to the 2006 event.

His enthusiasm is echoed by fair regular Lindsay Brown, CEO of LDC Supplies Pty Ltd in Australia, who regards the annual visit to Hong Kong as a sound investment in his company's business.

"The fair is a point of contact with our regular suppliers, but we use it for gathering market intelligence, including identification of new trends, colours and so on," Brown observes, noting that the fair is growing bigger. "I like it because it is purely stationery, so all the suppliers are in one place and easy to find."

Both buyers will doubtless be returning for the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair 2007, which will be held from January 8-11 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

For many buyers, the fair is a "must-attend" event that offers a unique opportunity to peruse a seemingly inexhaustible range of high-end to mass-market writing instruments, paper and paper products, office supplies, artists' equipment, educational systems and children's stationery and school supplies.

Now in its seventh successful year, the fair is co-organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council with Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd and runs concurrently with the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair.

Last year it was attended by 15,856 buyers from 120 countries and regions, who viewed the merchandise displayed by some 261 exhibitors.

High though their expectations are, returning regulars and newcomers alike may well find them exceeded by the 2007 show, according to TDC senior exhibitions manager Anne Chick.

"The Hong Kong International Stationery Fair has grown steadily in importance since its inception, and has developed into an important industry forum as well as a means for buyers and exhibitors to make contact with each other," she observes.

"It is reasonable to say that there is no better fair at which to gain a real insight into industry and market trends, and many companies use the information they glean here to formulate strategies for the coming year and beyond."

Chick notes that the Asian presence at the fair is traditionally strong, and, as in 2006, the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Japan are expected to be particularly well-represented along with European exhibitors and buyers.

"Once again there will be special pavilions for key production regions including the Chinese mainland - the largest stationery manufacturing base in the world - as well as Taiwan, Korea and Thailand," she adds.

Confirmed Asian exhibitors include an extensive array of office stationery suppliers who will display paper shredders, printing ink and accessories, coin- and note-counting machines and laminating machines.

The fair will also showcase a wide range of different stationery items aimed at children and some adults, which will fit the sourcing needs of department stores, novelty item shops, stationery stores, toy shops and the like.

"Suppliers of stationery featuring cartoon characters and action figures will also be heading to the fair, as this is a growing industry sector worldwide," Chick observes.

US company Mirage Int'l Industrial Inc, for example, is doubling its booth space from last year to display an impressive range of children's stationery items including gel pens, non-sharpening pencils, self-inking stamps and items featuring cartoon characters licensed from Disney.

Chick says high-end items such as these further underline the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair's well-earned reputation as a showcase for new and often innovative products.

"However, all the traditional stationery items will be on display, as well as computer consumables such as photo & inkjet papers, ink and toner cartridges," she reassures.

As in previous years, the 2007 fair will boast an extensive programme of networking events and seminars for attendees, as well as tailor-made business matching services to help introduce them to suppliers and other business partners.

"The Hong Kong International Stationery Fair is a lifeline for me with all the new products, ideas and contacts," states Gary Hause, executive vice-president of Canada's Pronto Innovations. "I have been coming here for years and I always find something new."

The forthcoming event has obvious synergies with the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair which is the second-largest event of its type in the world, and many buyers interested in children's stationery and school supplies are expected to take the time to attend both shows.

"The Hong Kong International Stationery Fair 2007 offers exhibitors direct access to important international buyers and first-class market intelligence under the best of all possible circumstances," Chick concludes.

"Buyers will be able to view products from the crˆome de la crˆome of manufacturers in the field, so it is certain to be a very exciting and extremely successful event."

Keeping Abreast of Trends

A major feature of the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair 2007 will be an extensive programme of seminars designed to brief attendees on the latest trends in children's and adults' stationery, and on the rapid evolution of the industry on the Chinese mainland.

Seminars will focus on key subjects such as trends in design and colour selection and the current state of key markets for the products, including the mainland.

Leading industry experts will impart invaluable market and industry intelligence geared to helping participants sharpen their competitive edge.

The Chinese stationery market is the biggest in the world and Chinese manufacturers are steadily improving standards of both design and production, with more moving to establish their own brands.

"Stationery is getting a bigger slice of the overall light industry output," says Zhu Min, project manager for the Zhejiang Subcouncil of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, adding that more stationery factories are being built in Zhejiang Province, most geared to high-quality production.

The trend in Taiwan is also towards upmarket goods according to Frank Lin, general manager of Doall Service, which organises the Taiwan pavilion.

"No longer competing on price, Taiwanese companies are making additional efforts in developing new product lines with new materials," he explains. "Some of them are creating their own brands and cartoon characters."

All of which augurs well for the international stationery industry in general and the success of the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair 2007 in particular.

WRITTEN BY ROBIN LYNAM