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A Specialist Showcase For The Houseware Industry(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 01,2001)

Vol. 1, 2001

Company profile


Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2001

Stage Is Set For Expanded Show

Spotlight On Minimalist And Green Designs

Industry Poised For A Strong Recovery

Premier Location Draws Trade Fair Crowds

A Specialist Showcase For The Houseware Industry


Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2001

17-20 April 2001

No. of Exhibitors No. of Visitors Gross Exhibition Space
Statistical Data for
Hong Kong Gifts &
Houseware Fair 2000
3,033* 54,595 68,350m2
* Not including the concurrent Hong Kong Premium Show 2000 which had 413 exhibitors
Venue Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Opening Hours 17-19 April 2001 9:00am-6:30pm (8:30am-6:00pm*)
20 April 2001 9:00am-5:00pm (8:30am-4:30pm*)
* Buyer Registration Hours
Product Mix Artificial flowers, bathroom accessories, cleaning supplies, furniture, garden accessories, handicrafts, hardware & DIY products, home decorations, household textile, kitchen gadgets, kitchenware, lighting, personal care items, small electrical appliances, storage, tableware, general houseware items and others.
Organizer Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Sales Enquiry Contacts Mr Angus Wong Tel: (852) 2240-4093
Ms Clara Hung Tel: (852) 2240-4029
Mr Terry Ng Tel: (852) 2240-4134
Visitors Enquiry Contacts Ms Stella Poon Tel: (852) 2240-4435
Mr Lucas Chang Tel: (852) 2240-4393
Enquiries via Post Exhibitions Department
Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Unit 13, Expo Galleria, Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Enquiries via Fax (852) 2824-0026
Enquiries via E-mail exhibitions@tdc.org.hk
Web site http://hkhousewarefair.com

Stage Is Set For Expanded Show

THE Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2001, scheduled for 17-20 April, will be the largest houseware fair in Asia and will reinforce Hong Kong's reputation as the number one sourcing point for houseware goods in the region.

This exciting new show was created to allow for more refined product specification and to meet increasing demand from exhibitors and buyers attending the Hong Kong Gifts and Houseware Fair and the Hong Kong Premium Show. The last trade event attracted a record 54,595 visitors and was so popular with exhibitors that the organizer, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), found itself turning people away.

"We used every square inch of space available - even the loading bays - and still we had over 700 companies on our waiting list, 50% of which were from overseas," says Anne Chick, TDC's senior exhibitions manager.

The simple answer was to expand the fair into two separate events.

Starting next year, there will be two specialist shows, the Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2001, followed immediately by the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2001 (24-27 April). The new format will enable the Houseware Fair to attract and accommodate many new exhibitors and buyers.

This premier event, which will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, will host more than 1,500 international exhibitors in four spacious exhibition halls occupying more than 37,000 square metres.

The Hong Kong Houseware Fair will be the focal point for international buyers of kitchenware, handicrafts, furniture, home decoration items and a plethora of other household wares.

The prospects for the Hong Kong houseware industry are excellent and improving all the time. "The Asian economic crisis has bottomed out and economic sentiment is much more positive," says Chick. "This year we saw many more buyers returning from Southeast Asian countries, and also from Japan and Korea. We are confident this recovery can be sustained and will improve."

At least 13 countries and regions will be represented at group pavilions, including the Chinese mainland, Germany, Hong Kong, Thailand and the US. A special highlight will be the Hall of Elegance, featuring designer collections and branded goods - all presented in a suitably stylish setting.

The new arrangement will also free up space for a range of side events. Seminars will be organized to look at issues affecting the industry, and social events will enable exhibitors and buyers to mix in a less formal atmosphere.

"All work and no play is never a good thing," says Chick. "We hope people will enjoy themselves at the fair and that while doing so they can pick up market intelligence and swap information about industry trends."

For participants interested in giftware as well as houseware, it is a short wait of three days until the start of the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2001. During this time visitors may take advantage of specially tailored cultural events, tours of local beauty spots and heritage walks. Short trips to the Chinese mainland and destinations in Southeast Asia are also planned. Spouses are not forgotten either: tea preparation presentations are just one of the options likely to feature on a special programme of activities.


Spotlight On Minimalist And Green Designs

PRODUCTS with innovative designs and modern features are expected to steal the show at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2001. Hong Kong manufacturers are continuing to move upmarket through continuous product refinement, pioneering designs and attractive packaging.

"The minimalist look, which was created for the new millennium, will continue into next year," declares Willie Tan, director of product development at dinnerware manufacturer Topchoice Industries Ltd. Simplicity and basic shapes will be the key, he says. For tableware, Tan believes platinum, black and white will feature strongly at the upcoming fair.

The spotlight will also be on newly developed materials and manufacturing processes. These are set to revolutionize the way we cook and the appearance of our kitchens.

"Silicon will be really hot this year," states Mimi Siu, executive director at Grand Mart Industrial Ltd, which makes kitchenware. She says silicon will transform bakeware into a rainbow of colours.

"With silicon we can make cake tins that come in transparent blues and greens and match other kitchen items," Siu says. "Silicon bakeware will cost more but we feel confident consumers will be willing to pay for the extra colour."

Echo Tse, marketing manager at kitchen textile manufacturer Loxman Ltd, agrees that tableware must complement other household items. "The trend is for more decorative items which are consistent with the design of other kitchen goods," he says. "It is important that tableware goods and accessories bear the motifs and colours of the season."

Most exhibitors will be stressing modern designs and styles in keeping with the mood of the new millennium. Andy Yung, assistant general manager at Shambala Furniture Warehouse, however believes there is also a huge market for antique household goods.

Antique Chinese furniture is proving very popular in the US and Europe. Yung says buyers appreciate that all items are made from solid wood and each one is unique. "These pieces are not just furniture - they are works of art," says Yung. "Each one is different and has its own history."

He says quality and transportability add to the popularity of antique pieces. "The furniture is held together by joints instead of nails, so it is very durable and easy to take apart."

Due to fierce pricing competition from other Asian suppliers, Hong Kong manufacturers are moving upmarket. Happily, this has proved a move in the right direction. Price is no longer the main consideration for buyers, particularly for those in more developed markets. Instead, special features and reliability of service make or break the deal.

Loxman has captured a chunk of the European market by specializing in eco-friendly cotton products. "We use environmentally friendly materials throughout," says Tse. "We never use PVC, polyester or plastic, even in the packaging, and our products are AZO dye-free."

"Innovation and quality are more important than price," agrees Tan. Topchoice Industries will soon be unveiling a new series of stoneware, featuring newly developed reactive glazes which produce a glossy metallic colour tone.

The company also plans to revitalize the market for bone china. "We'll be introducing some trendy new shapes and make the body less delicate so each item is more durable," explains Tan.

Hong Kong houseware manufacturers are brimming with ideas and optimism. They have good reason to be upbeat. With the Asian economic crisis firmly in the past, Hong Kong's exports of houseware products are making a determined recovery. Exports were up 14% in the first seven months of 2000, after dipping by 2% in 1999.

Tse is confident trading opportunities with the EU will improve. "From next year importers will increasingly use the euro to sell goods to other countries, and that will have a knock-on effect for businesses here," he says.

Tan is equally bullish. "We've already seen a huge jump [in sales] this year. The situation in Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Japan has improved greatly in terms of budget and buying power."

He believes markets in South America will also improve. "Argentina, Brazil and Chile have been sleeping for a while, but now they are catching up," says Tan.


Industry Poised For A Strong Recovery

HONG Kong's houseware industry is bouncing back. Trade figures show business is increasing steadily and there is great confidence the recovery will continue.

Hong Kong exports of houseware products grew 14% in January-July 2000, after dipping by 2% in 1999. The US remained the leading export market with 45.3% of market share. In the first seven months of 2000 total exports of houseware to the US jumped 19%.

Exports to Japan are also making a strong comeback as the country emerges from recession. Exports of houseware goods to Japan grew by 17% in the first seven months of this year.

However, the trade figures may not fully reflect the business performance of Hong Kong manufacturers, says Billy Wong, an economist with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. "The majority of Hong Kong houseware manufacturers have shifted their production to the Chinese mainland, from where the goods may be shipped directly overseas, so this business does not show up in the trade figures," Wong points out.

He believes the US will continue to be a strong market for Hong Kong houseware in the foreseeable future. "There is some talk of the US economy slowing down, but all the indications are that consumption is still booming."

Wong says competitive prices, good quality and cutting-edge designs are the key factors for attracting buyers from the US. The continued increase in new home sales and the growing number of ageing baby boomers are expected to contribute to a greater demand for houseware products. US consumers are increasingly opting for midrange to higher-end products, which is more good news for Hong Kong manufacturers who largely focus on this segment of the market.

Exports to Japan are also expected to grow significantly over the next few years. With the recession behind them, Japanese consumers are beginning to spend more, though perhaps with a new caution. "Hong Kong houseware goods are the best buy for Japanese consumers as they require quality products, but are more aware of value for money," says Wong.

Business with the EU, Wong adds, may also pick up as the European economies continue to improve. "We expect consumer spending to grow steadily, partly due to falling unemployment."

The Chinese mainland's entry into the World Trade Organization will bring new trading opportunities for Hong Kong houseware manufacturers by further opening up the mainland's domestic market. Housing reform, already underway on the Chinese mainland, will stimulate demand for houseware items, particularly in the more wealthy southern and coastal regions.

"Mainland consumers want houseware items that are affordable, fashionable and durable," says Wong. "Hong Kong manufacturers have the edge in penetrating the mainland market and can provide suitable goods for consumers there."

Competition from manufacturers on the mainland is having a dynamic effect on Hong Kong companies, forcing them to keep abreast of innovations and constantly strive to come up with designs. Wong says tight quality control, professional services and market initiative will continue to keep Hong Kong firmly ahead of the game.


Premier Location Draws Trade Fair Crowds

FOR the past six years, an annual trip to the Hong Kong Gifts and Houseware Fair has been something of a pilgrimage for buyer Delfina Vasquez. "Every time the fair has helped us identify new business opportunities. There is no way I would miss this annual event," says the product development manager of American firm Linz & Co Ltd.

"We've joined many fairs held elsewhere, but this one is the best," agrees exhibitor Constance Alicot, manager of RECREA of France.

These stories are a tribute to Hong Kong's growing stature as a premier trade fair centre in Asia. In 1999 Hong Kong was ranked as one of the leading cities in the region for international meetings, hosting 60 exhibitions which attracted about 211,000 overseas visitors, according to the Hong Kong Convention and Incentive Travel Bureau.

Hong Kong's distinct advantages over its rivals include its top-class infrastructure and strategic location in Asia and proximity to the Chinese mainland. It is also the world's 10th largest trading economy.

The presence of world-class venues like the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre - which won the Meetings and Incentive Travel Industry Award as "the Best Overseas Centre" for the seventh consecutive year in 2000 - top-rank hotels, efficient port facilities and a state-of-the-art airport at Chek Lap Kok, all contribute to Hong Kong's trade fair success, says C.S. Lee, TDC's director of exhibitions and publications.

"Hong Kong is an international hub," says Lee. "It is also a free society and a free port, allowing the free flow of products without interference."

Hong Kong's edge will only increase with the Chinese mainland's accession to the World Trade Organization. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority believes the impact for Hong Kong would be "unequivocally positive", and estimates that growing re-exports will boost economic growth by 0.5% to 1% over the next couple of years.

It is a view shared by the TDC. "There will be a surge of interest from overseas producers to sell to the Chinese mainland," predicts Lee. "It's a developing market and one of great potential in the future. With Hong Kong having 20 years of trading with the Chinese mainland since its opening up in 1979, and its context within China, it's natural for overseas buyers to come here to find partners and do business."

Proximity to the Pearl River Delta - the manufacturing powerhouse of southern China - ensures strong business for Hong Kong as a trade fair centre. Being close to the Chinese mainland also allows overseas buyers to tie in trips to trade fairs in cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing.

But it is not only Hong Kong's efficiency and geography that draw exhibitors and buyers. The Hong Kong ethos of work hard, play hard is another part of the city's appeal, says Michael Duck, senior vice-president of Miller Freeman Asia (Ltd). "People come to Hong Kong to see people, do business and have fun," says Duck. "Hong Kong is also a safe city - people feel it's a safe city. It's unique in its outlook and positioning."

It's an outlook and positioning that keeps trade fair business coming back to Hong Kong in ever-increasing numbers.


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