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Great Gear(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 01,2008)

Bags

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A global OEM/ODM player, Yiko Bags Mfg (HK) Ltd has its own Yiko's Loops Bounce and Kid Land brands

It may have taken the company just over a decade to become a serious player in the international bags field, but Yiko Bags Mfg (HK) Ltd hasn't finished yet.

Founded 11 years ago, the company has grown from a two-person operation to a leading global OEM/ODM player, with markets in Europe, the US, Southeast Asia and Japan.

But that's just a launch pad for the ambitions of partners Ivy Ng and Dickey Chui, who are aiming to set up shop in Italy - specifically fashion-conscious Florence.

The duo has already registered one very Italian-sounding brand, MiaCara (which means My Dear), for their ladies' bags and related products, and are now finishing the paperwork for their menswear brand, Ragazza.

The challenge of a start-up in a highly competitive market such as Italy doesn't faze Ms Ng at all. "We've gained SA8000 certification, which is a big selling point with overseas customers since it covers the rights of our factory workers, their working hours and other conditions," she explains.

Yiko has also had a lot of encouragement from some of its biggest customers in Italy. "For years our bags have been sold all over Italy and other countries in Europe but under various different brand names - why not ours?," Ms Ng asks.

The pair recently "put their toes in the water" by opening a shop in Hong Kong's trendy Lan Kwai Fong area, and sales are so encouraging the partners are convinced the Italy venture has a "good chance" of success.

Ms Ng not only came up with the CapoVerso name for the Hong Kong retail outlet, but also provided Yiko's Loops Bounce brand for sports bags, Kid Land for its children's line and even the company name. "My daughter's middle name is Yik and her English name is Coco," she explains. "So what else but Yiko?"

The company supplies its shop and international customers from two factories in Dongguan that employ a combined workforce of 650, who utilise 400 sewing machines and some 150 other specialist machines including 10 Mitsubishi computerized stitching machines.

Yiko is capable of producing seven million polyester, nylon and PVC bags a year, including fashion, backpacks and sports and children's bags (specially back-to-school outfits), plus ladies' purses and cosmetics bags.

One new line is briefcases and laptop bags made of smooth artificial leather that come in black, bronze and white, and feature a laptop pouch made of bump-resistant polar fleece.

"Another unusual feature is a decorative strip of horse's mane just beneath the handle, which helps ease the strain on users' hands," Ms Ng adds.

She points out that the global market is saturated with gunmetal black briefcases and computer bags and insists these eye-catching new models will appeal to trendy buyers.

Overall, however, Ms Ng concedes that buyers prefer bags that are sensible, practical and functional. "Another plus about simpler designs is that they can be mass-produced without any trouble and are therefore inexpensive," she remarks.

Yiko takes note of new trends, but doesn't change designs every couple of weeks to match every new idea. "But of course if we get an OEM order for a revolutionary new design, we will be quite happy to fill it," Ms Ng adds.

The company's product development and design department can also provide computerized graphic design and hand drawing for customers who do not have their own design ideas.

"Once the customer is satisfied with the design and colour, we can supply the actual samples within 7-10 days," Ms Ng says. "We ship from either Yantian on the Chinese mainland or Hong Kong, depending on the customers' wishes."

She attributes Yiko's ability to flourish to the high volume of its business. "We thrive because of our efficiency, reliability and practicality when quoting for OEM work," Ms Ng maintains.

Looking to the future - and apart from the proposed retail venture in Italy - she believes the best prospects still lie in the US. "China has enormous potential, but changing regulations and other factors make it a tough nut to crack - although we already have a small domestic market over the border and will continue to grow and develop our business there as we have done in all our other international markets," Ms Ng concludes.

TEXT BY GEOFFREY SOMERS

Fast Fact

Yiko Bags Mfg (HK) Ltd
Rms 17-20, 16/F, Blk A
Hi-Tech Ind Centre
5-21 Pak Tin Par St
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2421-4672
Fax: 852-2429-5067
Email:
marketing@yiko.com
Web: www.yiko.com
Year Established: 1993
Major Product Categories: sports, fashion, children's and cosmetic bags, premiums
Brands & Certificates: Yiko's Loops Bounce,
MiaCara, Kid Land
Minimum Order: 1,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: -
Delivery Time: 55-65 days
Factory Size & Location: 20,000 square metres; Dongguan
Workforce: 350