6 April 2005
Cookware(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 02,2005)
Once, the cook's main consideration when shopping for kitchen items was price, function and durability. Today, pleasing designs, high quality finishes and - perhaps most important of all - performance are vital requirements.
"Knowledgeable consumers demand to be informed about issues such as heat distribution, and frequently ask about the materials used in the construction of their purchases," says Axa Int'l Ltd sales manager Iny Ho. "And we welcome this trend."
Established in 1991, Axa has always focused on quality, design and innovation - having pioneered the production of tri-ply pans on the Chinese mainland.
"Tri-ply - meaning three layers - sees stainless steel on the outside and inside of the pot and aluminium in the middle that results in an even distribution of heat," Ho explains. "The food is more healthy, too, because vitamins are more easily retained."
She says Axa's copper pans are also tri-ply, featuring stainless steel, aluminium and copper on the outermost layer.
"We are globally positioned, and we have a large and growing range of cookware," says Ho. "We recently expanded our range of materials and now use hard anodised aluminium, which is much sought after because it is harder than stainless steel."
The company has strong design capabilities and specialises in OEM/ODM work, collaborating closely with customers to develop new cookware ranges.
"European designs are more stylish," Ho notes. "As we are a joint venture firm with European partners and customers we usually know the latest design trends well in advance."
Axa's ISO 9001-certified factory in XinXing on the Chinese mainland employs 1,600 workers and turns out some one million pans, kettles and pressure cookers per month. The firm promises delivery within 55 days of order confirmation.
FOB Hong Kong unit prices range from about US$5-18 depending on the design and construction. Major markets include Europe, Japan and the UK.
Also enjoying notable success in Europe, primarily under its own GSW brand, is GSW (HK) Ltd. GSW, known for its quality of design, produces pans at a range of price points to meet individual requirements.
"We do business around the world, but our major markets are Germany and other European countries," says general manager Johnny Ng. "GSW - standing for Global Steel Ware - has become quite a famous brand in Europe, and we also have a presence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia."
GSW, which will accept OEM orders if the volumes are appropriate, requires a minimum order of one FEU. "We will consider smaller shipments for some special or especially-packed products, though," says Ng.
Pans are usually sold in sets of four or more pieces, with FOB Hong Kong prices starting at about US$40. Delivery generally takes place 60 days after receipt or sight of L/C.
Sky Industrial Co is also building its own brand, according to general manager Boris Cheung. "We work with a number of different factories on the southern Chinese mainland," he says. "We manufacture stainless steel kitchenware including kettles, bread bins, step bins, cutlery and other related products, as well as pots and pans."
Sky, which has also established itself as a supplier of computer and AV products, places a strong emphasis on customer service. "We are currently developing our Steelux brand, mostly for Europe. We can fill about 10 TEUs per month and we have no minimum order requirement," says Cheung. "The largest order we have handled so far was for two full TEUs." Orders are generally processed within 45 days.
Established in 1979, Effect Trading Co manufactures a wide range of houseware under its Happy Home brand that is widely known in Europe, Malaysia and the Middle East. Effect exports various household and kitchen products, including kitchen tools, bakeware, cookie cutters, kitchen accessories and even memo holders.
"We have an excellent sales network and connections with different kinds of household goods manufacturers, and we provide efficient integration services for different products," explains manager Vincent Chan. "We also provide a customised manufacturing service via customers' designs or samples."
Chan says the firm exports to every corner of the world, including Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Japan and Southeast Asia.
"We ship about 30 FEUs per month of pots, pans and casserole sets in polished stainless steel, mostly in medium thickness and fitted with Bakelite handles," he claims.
"We sell under our own brand name and also manufacture for custom labels and we have an in-house design capability. Delivery is usually within 45 days of order confirmation."
Proving that, whatever the priority - value for money, excellence of design or a balance between the two - Hong Kong is in a position to supply the right product at the right price no matter what's cooking.
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
Arcus Housewares (HK) Ltd
Effect Trading Co