9 April 2009
Cream Of The Crop
Trendy silver-plated tableware from local firms shines in global markets, testifying to Hong Kong's sterling success as a quality supplier
Nothing beats the luxurious appeal of silver-plated items in the tableware market, which ensures their popularity even in tough times. Helping to retain the shine of this long-standing sector, Hong Kong suppliers are continuing to roll out new styles that meet changing demands.
A sterling example is Ocean King Enterprises Co Ltd, which introduces some 20 new styles of silver-plated tableware each year and offers a total of more than 200 designs in this category.
The firm's range includes candleholders, tea sets, serving trays, napkin rings, shakers, relish dishes, jam sets, bowls, bakers and warmers.
"Currently, our most popular products are trays, candleholders and warmers," says Marketing Manager Mango Lam. "Also among our new products is a highly decorative matching range of serving dishes and napkin rings."
Most of the firm's business is its own designs, while about 20% is OEM. "The average price of our products is US$13-15 per piece FOB Hong Kong," advises Mr Lam, adding that Ocean King hopes to maintain buyer interest in 2009 by launching more new items.
"Europe is our biggest market, and other important outlets include Turkey, Singapore and Malaysia," he says, noting that the trend in Europe is for simple, plain designs while buyers in the US and Asia generally favour fancier, more decorative items.
Offering a wide array of products is also a key strategy at Petek Co Ltd, a gifts, tableware and houseware manufacturer that supplies more than 2,000 items in silver-, gold- or pewter-plating.
Silver-plated tableware comprises more than 50% of the company's output, which consists of 80% own-designs and 20% OEM items.
"Tabletop-serving pieces such as cake and salad servers, candelabras and warmers are some of our most popular items," says Managing Director Peter Kwok. "Our best-selling products are three- and five-light candelabras that we offer in 200-300 styles and two ranges - modern contemporary and antique."
Petek will concentrate on more basic, plain models for 2009 in response to changes in global markets. "We are adjusting to the current economic climate by offering low- to medium-range products with designs that can be sold year-round rather than for special occasions such as Christmas," Mr Kwok advises.
With its silver-plated collection unit-priced from US$1-20 FOB China, the supplier sells mostly to North America, which accounts for approximately 50% of business. Europe is its other major market.
"Our customers are long-term clients such as importers and famous brands," Mr Kwok imparts.
He believes that silver-plated ware will continue to prove popular with buyers worldwide. "There is always a demand for silver-plated items as they make very attractive tableware and classy gifts and have been popular in the market for a long time," he remarks.
This view is shared by Trempest Ltd, another major industry player. "The silver-plated tableware business is very stable," insists Operations Manager Thomas Lam. "These items always have value in the market as they offer a more elegant look."
The company's product portfolio comprises more than 1,000 silver-plated tableware items. "We offer a full range, from small items to chafing dishes and food warmers, as over the years we have built up a lot of tooling expertise," explains Mr Lam. "Currently, our most popular silver-plated items are serving pieces, napkin rings and champagne flutes."
The flutes are among the manufacturer's latest creations. They come with silver-plated stems and bases, and are usually sold in pairs. "We offer more than 30 champagne flute designs," Mr Lam says.
Some 70% of Trempest's business is its own designs, with the remainder OEM. The enterprise exports worldwide, with Europe and the US its leading markets, followed by the Middle East.
"I believe there will continue to be strong demand for our silver-plated tabletop items as they combine decoration with functionality thanks to elegant designs and quality workmanship," says Mr Lam.
Dainty silver-plated tabletop products are also available from Woo Fung Metal Mfy.
"Cake knives and cake servers are our customers' most popular choices in the silver-plated tableware category, while champagne glasses and napkin rings are also in demand," says Marketing Assistant Jonathan Ng. "Fancy, ornate designs are popular."
Many of the company's items are used as gifts, and as such they can be ordered together with gift box packaging. "The UK is our biggest market for tableware, followed by the US," says Mr Ng, adding that the firm's tableware sells for US$3-7 per piece FOB Hong Kong or China.
Offering a touch of class and elegance at such affordable prices, silver-plated tableware from Hong Kong is likely to continue to dazzle with a polished performance for years to come.
TEXT BY SANDRA JENNER