28 Sept 2007
Functional & Fun(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2007)
|This wooden table, chair and magazine rack are tailor-made for young children and have been design-registered by Kooha Create Hong Kong Ltd|
International suppliers of children's furniture are keen to demonstrate their dedication to sturdy build, design appeal and potential for fun
Tiny tables and chairs, adjustable for use as children grow from ages three years to five, appear prominently among the range offered by Kooha Create Hong Kong Ltd, the regional arm of a Japanese company with a history spanning a half-century.
The firm started out in children's furniture about seven years ago. "We reacted to inquiries from customers and then searched for suppliers on the Chinese mainland," says Director Masaru Kogawa. "After handling OEM orders, we started to sell our own products."
Lines include various items resplendent with decorative drawings of a child at play, plus French words hinting at artistry and creativity. "Our designer likes the French language," says Mr Kogawa. "In the Japanese market, foreign languages like English and French make good impressions."
He notes that parents and grandparents now spend more on items to please children. "Even slightly expensive products sell if they're safe and of㗖igh quality," says Mr Kogawa.
"Most customers mention tables and chairs as priority items, but we offer related products too," he adds, explaining that these come as attractive wooden boxes, including one model with compartments for tissues and nappies.
There are also magazine racks, small floor mats, bags and tiny clothing racks with storage drawers and a chart to measure kiddies' heights from 65-150cm.
Meanwhile, a transport theme decorates the folding tables, chairs, storage boxes and drawers, bookends, toy-trunks, bedside steps and other items from Fuda Industrial Co.
Silk-screened images of buses, tow-trucks and fire trucks, plus directional signs, also adorn the wooden surfaces. "We may expand the theme by adding police cars and ambulances," says Merchandiser Terence Leung.
Design is a strong point. "Our customers say what they want, and we develop new collections for them," Mr Leung advises. "Our products may cost a little more than those of others because we focus on high quality."
A folding table is the firm's most popular item. "It has a small drawer," says Mr Leung, claiming that "most factories that make folding tables leave out the drawer".
Founded in 1986, Fuda has headquarters in Hong Kong and two factories employing 200 workers in Shenzhen on the mainland. Delivery time follows order confirmation by 45-60 days.
"Our main markets are the US, Germany, Japan, Korea and the UK," says Mr Leung. "Both factories create wooden items like furniture and home decorations, and we do OEM in addition to developing our own lines."
The mainland's Fujian Senda Foreign Trade Co Ltd specialises in developing, producing and selling children's furniture. It offers everything from tables, chairs, rocking chairs and benches to clothing racks, storage units and blackboards.
"American and European customers like the rocking chairs," says General Manager Miao Ma Zhao. "We work hard to come up with unique themes and designs, including images of animals, mushrooms, berries, flowers, cars, ships, stars and spacecraft."
Fujian Senda's 600-worker factory in Fuzhou on the mainland uses medium density fibreboard (MDF), solid wood and fabrics. "We pay a lot of attention to quality and shipment dates," Mr Miao says. "The customer is always first." A minimum order fills one TEU for delivery 30-35 days after order confirmation.
Hong Kong manufacturer James Industries Co, which started to produce mini-furniture items in 2000, makes its chairs extra strong to endure rough handling by active children.
General Manager Joey Lam takes pride in the firm's purple "quarter chairs" and green "moon chairs" fashioned from fabric on steel frames. The latter, circular like moons, are "very soft with no sharp edges and won't break. They pass a loading test for up to 450 pounds."
James Industries also offers "animal jumps". These are inflatable elephants and goats in thick PVC and are useful as bouncy seats. "We may do a cartoon character next," Ms Lam says.
Using metal, plastic and PVC, the 10-year-old company makes scooters, pogo sticks and trampolines too. "We often work with MGA, a famous US toymaker," Ms Lam says. "We sell high quality, and our products can pass American and European standards."
Ms Lam regards the US, Europe and Australia as the firm's main markets, and says that the minimum order is 200 pieces for delivery 25-30 days after confirmation.
Another decade-old company is Zhejiang Tongfeng Arts and Crafts Co Ltd, from Taizhou on the mainland. The firm creates tables and chairs from MDF and real wood, while its decorative themes include sports and animals.
"Children's furniture accounts for about 30% of our business," says Sales Manager Anson Zhou. "We make other wooden products, too, especially decorative items. If a child likes something, a family member is sure to buy it. This is a strong business."
Zhejiang Tongfeng engages 600 workers at its five-storey factory. "Our major markets are the US and Europe," says Ms Zhou, who aspires to sell more in Japan and Australia. The minimum order value requirement is US$10,000 for delivery 40 days after confirmation.
One of the largest producers of PU and memory foam products, Wah Tung Sponge Fty Ltd, offers a collection of children's furniture including sofas, folding chairs, pillows and cushions.
Children's sofas are its most popular line - with regular (non-memory) PU units priced at US$12-15 each FOB Yantian. "We also offer a combination unit with regular PU on the bottom and memory foam on the top. These sell for US$16-18 each," says Manager Tanny Cheung.
LED lighting and audio speakers can be incorporated into the children's sofas as additional features. The LED light costs an extra US$2 and the audio speaker, which can be plugged into an MP3 player, is US$4.
Minimum order requirement is one TEU and delivery is 30-35 days after confirmation, mainly to markets in Europe and the US. "We're hoping to expand into Japan and to increase our market in the US," Ms Cheung adds.
They may be small, but sales of mini-furniture items soon stand tall.
TEXT BY JOHN CAIRNS
James Industries Co
Unit 7G, Blk A, Marvel Ind Bldg
25-31 Kwai Fung Crescent
New Territories, Hong Kong
Kooha Create Hong Kong Ltd
Rms F1-07, 6/F,
Phase 1, Hang Fung Ind Bldg
2G Hok Yuen St, Hung Hom
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Zhejiang Tongfeng Arts and Crafts Co Ltd
42# Gongxin Rd
Huangyan Economic Development Zone
Zhejiang Province, China