1 Nov 2003
A Recipe For Success (HKTDC Houseware, Vol 02,2003)
Vol. 2, 2003
Supor (HK) Co Ltd
A classy cookware set from Supor (HK) Co Ltd, a company that believes in establishing a name for quality
Unlike many other manufacturers, cookware manufacturer Supor (HK) Co Ltd does not rush to export its products. Rather, it seeks to first build successful brands and products for the Chinese mainland's rapidly growing domestic market.
This maker of aluminium and stainless steel cookware works well under pressure. One of its most popular lines is a pressure cooker that can cook everything from rice to stews.
Marketing director Samson Hui says the 20-year-old company first began manufacturing pressure cooker components such as release valves, before progressing to entire units.
Supor has been expanding ever since, with major investments in non-stick and stainless steel production lines.
"We are different from other factories in that most others quickly build up their export businesses. We build up the company and products in the domestic market, with our own brand, and commence exports only when everything is ready," he says.
Supor is now diversifying into new products, and investing in a plant that produces rice cookers and induction heaters.
"These two products are mainly for the domestic market on the mainland. When we have the design right, we will be ready for export," he says.
About 80% of Supor's products are aluminium and about 10% stainless steel.
Best-selling items are aluminium non-stick and high-anodised cookware that can be anodised by up to more than 50 microns. This makes these items more durable than the average anodised product, usually anodised to 32-36 microns.
"There are fewer than five companies on the mainland capable of producing high-anodised cookware to that thickness," Hui claims.
The company is ISO 9002-certified and has taken a lead in industry safety standards. "We even write the electrical pressure cooker safety standards for the Chinese government who use this for other companies' products," Hui says.
Supor's 1.5-million-square-foot factory in Zhejiang Province employs 2,500 workers and can produce more than 15 million pieces a year. Customers can choose from more than 1,000 products and OEM orders are welcome.
The company has invested heavily in research and development, with a design team of more than 50 people annually producing in excess of 50 new items for the domestic and export markets. Three testing labs ensure products comply with quality and safety standards applicable to individual export markets.
The product development process takes one to two years because each item must meet individual standards in specific export markets. The major export market is the US, where consumers prefer heavy-gauge aluminium because it provides superior heat transfer.
"This is in contrast to the Europeans who prefer stainless steel because they use induction heaters to cook with and are more focused on design," says Hui.
In the US, most of the company's customers are private label stores where the market is extremely competitive. "To win in this market is not easy because, especially for high-anodised items, there are too many suppliers right now," he says.
Other important markets include Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. In addition, the company exports to Brazil, the UK, the Middle East and Canada. An office in Toronto opened in 2001.
The Supor Group also has investments in Chinese medicine and property.
WRITTEN BY SUSAN SCHWARTZ
Supor (HK) Co Ltd
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