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Bigger & Better(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 01,2008)

Houseware Fair 2008

 

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Buyers who expressed optimism when surveyed in April 2007 will undoubtedly be looking to capitalise on even better sourcing opportunities at the next edition of the Hong Kong Houseware Fair from April 21-24, 2008.

The survey found more than two-thirds of buyers and exhibitors were confident that business in 2007 would be better than 2006. More than half of the exhibitors polled also expected emerging markets, including the Chinese mainland, Southeast Asia, India, Russia, and Central and Eastern Europe, to show most growth.

"In the past two years," says Jeffrey Lam, Chairman of the fair's Organising Committee, "while traditional markets have remained stable we have seen significant growth in new and emerging outlets."

He believes growth from improvements in various domestic economies is leading to an increase in construction projects and in the numbers of new-home owners. He also sees increased demand from the baby-boomer segment willing to spend more on home comforts.

"Home electronics, for example, occupy a prominent position in many homes and offer lots of opportunities for suppliers in many houseware categories," he states. "Similarly, interest in environmental materials is driving a more specialised demand among buyers."

Meanwhile, a number of enthusiastic exhibitors has already decided to participate in the coming fair, which is organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC).

Returning participants include Sealand Industrial Co Ltd, which joined the Pet Supplies Zone in 2007 as a first-time exhibitor. The company claims to now have a better idea of what household buyers want.

"We found the buyers visiting the fair to be quite different from our usual pet-shop customer," says Executive Assistant Tracy Lam. "They seemed to prefer simple, more easily-handled designs, especially those buyers from DIY outlets."

Nevertheless, she says that Sealand Industrial received many enthusiastic enquiries and processed a number of successful orders. "We are glad to have explored new distribution channels for our products," Ms Lam states. "For 2008, we will showcase plastic aquarium tanks in interesting shapes, some with tabletop panorama designs and energy-saving lights."

Another first-time participant in 2007, this time at the Posh Corner, was Lifeztore (HK) Ltd. The company is equally upbeat about participating in 2008.

"Last year was instrumental in helping us establish new footholds in Europe and the US, and we cannot wait to showcase our new 'LZ LifeZtore' brand collection again," says Deputy CEO Daryl Lai, adding that LZ LifeZtore offers a profusion of stylish indoor and outdoor furniture, as well as chic home decor and items made of wood and rattan.

"Our future creations will stay consistent with our brand image of being both playful and functional," says Mr Lai, adding that the design direction integrates elements of Eastern and Western culture and influences.

Offering a myriad of corkscrews, cocktail and bar accessories and kitchenware, Technical (HK) Mfg Ltd is also ready to show off its latest range.

"We have an R&D department comprising 10 engineers and 11 designers. They are tasked with rejuvenating existing items and innovating new ones to attract customers all year round," says Managing Director Brian Sun.

Mr Sun stresses that it is no longer good enough to merely repackage a product. "Apart from the outlook, appeal and function, we also stress the presentation and packaging aspects and make suggestions as to how items can best be marketed in a retail environment."

The Hong Kong Houseware Fair has grown into a fully-fledged source for industry trends and benchmarks, and a truly global marketplace for international exhibitors and buyers.

In 2007, for example, more than 30,000 visitors from 137 countries and regions attended the event and visited the record-breaking 3,500-plus booths.

The introduction of two new sections - Posh Corner and Pet Supplies Zone - further enhanced the comprehensive nature of the 22-year-old event. "These two sections will make their successful return, with even more variety, in April 2008," says TDC Senior Exhibitions Manager Anne Chick.

"Posh Corner will feature stylish and exquisite top-of-the-range, home-living items, while Pet Supplies Zone is a fun place for buyers looking for pet products and items ranging from aquariums to toys," she adds.

New for 2008 is an independent zone for paintings, objets d'art and art supplies," says Ms Chick. "This is in response to increasing interest in art and decor items."

The new section will be a convergence of paintings of various styles and media, including Chinese and Western styles, three-dimensional pictures, posters, tapestries, antique reproductions, crystal decorations, figures and decorative items.

"Also not to be missed is the Hall of Elegance, where buyers will find branded products and designer collections with the focus on excellence in design," assures Ms Chick.

Returning is a series of informative seminars on houseware trends, market developments and other industry topics. With exhibitors taking every opportunity to showcase their best, the 2008 edition of the Hong Kong Houseware Fair looks assured to be another solid hit.

TEXT BY WINNIE HUI