1 Nov 2005
Bright Prospects(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 01,2006)
Vol. 1, 2006
|Beautifully designed tableware and accessories in silver plate or stainless steel are offered by Regent Silverware Mfg Ltd|
"In the beginning, as our name suggests, we produced silver-plated goods," says director Wilson Lee. "Today, we also offer stainless steel items - and the proportion of stainless steel to silverware has increased steadily."
Set up in 1994 as a specialist supplier of food bakers, food warmers, trays, candleholders, fruit baskets, servers, barware and accessories and various tabletop items, Regent focuses on the use of metal.
"When we need non-metal accessories such as glassware, we buy the most suitable quality - which for glass means Europe, mainly, with some supplies from Brazil," Lee explains.
"Our up-market stainless steel wares and attractive household items are all good quality, modern designs intended for the dining table rather than the kitchen," he adds. "Our main target market is the giftware sector, and major clients are department stores, importers and OEMs with their own brand names."
According to Lee, in Asia many houseware suppliers make and offer the same types of goods. "However, while catalogue descriptions may be similar, quality fluctuates wildly," he claims.
Regent's production takes place in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland. "Many manufacturers on the mainland are simply making use of cheap labour and land to achieve low production costs - and their subsequent low-selling prices attract all sorts of buyers. This results in western markets becoming flooded with low-end goods."
Noting that this approach serves only to spoil a market, Lee says Regent will continue to work with respected buyers looking for quality. "We want long-term relationships with our clients, and offer everything from idea development to making the prototype and finally the finished product," he asserts.
"In certain countries, Regent is an established and well-known brand name in its own right and we also have the Regent Silverware and Regent Inox brands - in addition to supplying various brand-name owners and manufacturers in Europe and the US on an OEM/ODM basis."
Fluctuations in the prices of metals continue to plague the industry. "The most damaging increase is the cost of stainless steel, which has risen by about 60% over the past 18 months. Most of our stainless steel is imported from Japan - to get the quality - but the cost increase is damaging our business," says Lee.
"The real culprit is the cost of nickel, which usually makes up 8%-10% of stainless steel. Nickel prices have doubled or even tripled."
Regent is happy to demonstrate to its clients that it respects all their guidelines no matter how demanding. "For example," notes Lee, "we are in full compliance with international requirements for optimum labour conditions; banning the use of child labour, setting a minimum wage, maximum working hours and safety in the workplace and so on. We even accept random or on-the-spot inspections."
Environmental considerations are another important issue. "From time-to-time, or as required by clients, our products are tested by independent laboratories, especially when a customer requires certification to satisfy overseas regulators," says Lee.
"The US market, for example, must comply with FDA regulations, while EU nations must follow EU directives. Turkey is the most recent country to insist on environmental checking prior to shipment."
According to Lee, the firm is managed by a group of dynamic, young associates who ensure consistent standards. "Apart from customer relations and the quality of our goods, the Regent name is now recognised and trusted in international markets as a highly-reliable supplying partner," he enthuses.
Regent Silverware certainly appears to have hit the mother lode.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Regent Silverware Mfg Ltd
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