28 Aug 2007
Floral Tributes(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 09,2007)
Artificial Flowers & Plants
|Hon Lam Silk Flowers Mfy Ltd offers realistic-looking artificial plants for household or commercial purposes such as a cedar bonsai tree and a podocarpus ball in an urn|
Hong Kong companies cater for a huge worldwide demand for realistic, yet artificial, flowers and plants that seem to replicate nature's own standards
Hon Lam Silk Flowers Mfy Ltd is a specialist in topiary greenery, and offers a variety of manicured shapes. The company's cedar bonsai trees and neatly trimmed podocarpus balls, for example, are complemented by topiary wildlife figures such as fish, dolphins, bears and rabbits.
"We've seen more of an Oriental trend in the last year or two," says export manager Roger Li at the 28-year-old firm. "For example, bonsai trees, from table-sized models up to those that stand 5-6 feet tall, account for 20% of our production."
The company has more than 1,000 designs in its inventory, including cacti, succulents, ferns and ficus, in addition to box firs, cypress, cedar and agave trees. Many items are geared for outdoor landscaping and/or commercial purposes.
Li says the firm strives for the most realistic look possible. "We buy the real thing and try to imitate it," he says, adding that PE is the main material used to create the branches, leaves and nursery pots.
Typical FOB Hong Kong unit prices at Hon Lam Silk range from US$4.50 for a 30-inch cypress tree to US$62 for a 10-foot tall cypress. Minimum order is one FEU, for delivery 80-90 days after order confirmation.
About 90% of the company's orders are on an ODM basis and the balance is OEM. "Our strengths are our innovative designs, our moulds and colouration," Li insists, saying that the US absorbs about 70% of the firm's output of about 40,000 cartons per month. Another 20% is shipped to Europe.
Colourful flowers from Chun Fung Artificial Flower Mfy Ltd - "planted" in their own PE nursery pots - are the perfect gift for Mother's Day or St Valentine's Day. This product measures 19cm in height and comes with an 8cm diameter pot. The unit price is a flat US$0.40 FOB Hong Kong.
"Customers are looking for something that is not expensive yet is also suitable as a gift item," says marketing manager Joe Chan. "These pots are individually packaged and are easy to put on a shelf."
Carnations, orchids, poppies, calla lilies and roses made of polyester fabric are the five most popular flowers at Chun Fung, with a total of 12 different types of flowers in all. "We mainly do flowers, but we also offer a dozen different types of green plants such as ivy and pothos plants for both homes and businesses," Chan says.
The company's factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland manufactures 300,000 items per month and exports them to France, Italy, Japan and the US 45-60 days after order confirmation. Minimum order is 3,000 pieces per model.
Chun Fung places high priority on keeping abreast of market trends, Chan insists, and plans to expand its markets to include Eastern Europe and South America.
Many of Tomco Trading Co Ltd's customers buy artificial flowers and plants that look as realistic as possible, while others prefer colours clearly designed to match a home's decor.
"The natural look is more in demand for outdoor flowers and plants intended for patios and sundecks," explains director Tony Lee. "For interior use, people want a plant in a colour that matches the room."
Tomco Trading sells to importers who in turn supply chain stores in the US and Europe. The company, which prices its products from US$2-10 each FOB Hong Kong, subcontracts to more than 100 factories on the mainland and can turn out 25 FEUs a month. The minimum order value is US$10,000 per shipment, with a 30-45 day delivery time after order confirmation.
Outdoor items and flowers and plants in papier mâché pots are the firm's two strongest sales segments, while floral arrangements that combine greenery and flowers are another burgeoning growth area.
"We might have 5-6 different flowers in one pot," says Lee. "We started doing those two years ago and they now represent 10%-15% of our sales."
Lee adds that related products, such as flower wall plaques and outdoor furniture coordinated with the firm's flowers and plants, have also become promising new avenues for sales.
At Lok Fai (HK) Import & Export Co Ltd, single cut flowers such as roses, orchids and peonies priced from HK$80-150 per dozen FOB Hong Kong are among the best-sellers. The flowers are crafted from polyester fabric, with PP and PE for the stems.
Established in 1983, the company also manufactures sprays, wreaths, garlands, bushes, topiary products and potted arrangements for export to Europe and Asia.
According to marketing manager Connie Tang, the firm's factory in Shenzhen can produce 100,000 pieces per month. The minimum order is 10 cartons per style, and shipments go out 90 days after order confirmation.
Clearly, bringing a cheerful touch of the outdoors to homes and offices continues to be one of Hong Kong's best-known and most established export industries.
TEXT BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
Chun Fung Artificial Flower Mfy Ltd
18/F, Blk C
Waylee Ind Centre
30-38 Tsuen King Circuit
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Lok Fai (HK) Import & Export Co Ltd
Rm 1, 5/F
Kingsford Ind Centre
13 Wang Hoi Rd
Kowloon Bay, Kowloon
Luen Tai Plastic Fty Ltd
14/F, Blk G, Phase 2
Kwai Shing Ind Bldg
42-46 Tai Lin Pai Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories