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High and Dry(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 12,2007)

Umbrellas & Rain Gear

Sinobest Umbrella Co Ltd makes special products such as the 23.5-inch, eight-rib, Twins umbrella with a canopy wide enough for two people (front) and a bright, 30-inch windproof golf umbrella

Umbrellas have come a long way since the days of waxed parasols, while rainwear, too, now displays elements of style in addition to function

Think of rain and you also think of an umbrella or a raincoat, and Hong Kong has a host of both items on offer with a variety of qualities and at competitive prices.

Hongkong Umbrella Co Ltd, for example, adopts hi-tech solutions to make products that function better in the wind and rain. The company offers model HKU3051, a folding, three-section, hand-opening, 21-inch, eight-rib umbrella. "Adding a section of plastic ribs to the canopy frame makes it more flexible in strong winds," explains Marketing Manager Henry Sit.

The canopy is made of pongee, which has overtaken nylon as the new standard due to its reasonable price and durability. "The hand-feel of pongee is better and it's not so sensitive to changes in humidity," he adds.

Another windproof model is HKUAOC051, a 21-inch, eight-rib, three-section folding umbrella with a push-button auto-open and close mechanism.

"All our umbrellas have a water-repelling upper coating and a water-resistant underside," Mr Sit says, adding that fabric is sourced primarily from Taiwan for better quality, colour fastness, water resistance and UV protection.

Nano-technology has been adopted for improved water repellence. "We can also offer Teflon for higher standards of repellence, for oil and water, but this is generally for golf and beach umbrellas," says Mr Sit.

The firm positions itself in the mid- to high-range niche, with the focus on promotional items, which forms 60% of its business. The remainder is traditional umbrellas and OEM work for big fashion brands.

Another Hong Kong-based innovator is Sinobest Umbrella Co Ltd, an umbrella and raincoat specialist. "We do a lot of special items and shapes," says Sales Manager Patrick Yu.

Shapes include the Twins umbrella, a 23.5-inch, eight-rib promotional item. "We call it the Twins or Lovers' umbrella because two people can walk under it. It has 1.5 times the coverage of a regular 23.5-inch umbrella," explains Mr Yu.

The Twins is a stick umbrella comprising metal and fibreglass parts. Three years ago, a folding version was developed. "It is like a regular three-fold umbrella but bigger when open," says Mr Yu, adding that the unit price is US$2.50-3.00 FOB Hong Kong for a single colour printed with logo.

The canopy can be nylon or pongee, "but we prefer pongee, because it doesn't expand or contract according to the humidity," says Mr Yu.

Another style, with a unit price of US$2.60-2.70, is a 30-inch, eight-rib, windproof, fibreglass golf umbrella that eliminates corrosion problems by having plastic parts.

A lace parasol is popular in Japan and Korea. "It is compact and protects ladies from the sun and light rain," says Mr Yu. It has a UV-protection factor of 50-plus and provides 99.9% sun protection. "The price is about US$2.30 each, based on a minimum order of 2,400 pieces," he says.

Diversity is the strategy at Tai Wah Umbrella Industry (HK) Co Ltd. "We make kids', golf, mini, stick, auto and manual umbrellas using different materials," says Marketing Manager Vera Cheung.

The firm offers nylon, pongee, polyester, cation and yarn-dyed fabric. "We can even use polycotton, which creates a natural effect and is thicker but also more expensive," says Ms Cheung.

OEM comprises 60% of the business, while promotional items soak up the rest. "We do a lot of OEM cartoon character umbrellas on behalf of licence holders," she says.

Model 33-510 is a new, 21-inch, six-rib, folding mini-umbrella in perennially-popular leopard or check prints with a matching handbag-style case that sells for US$3.00-3.50 each FOB Hong Kong. The five-section umbrella is lightweight and compact for a handbag.

A new trend is for umbrellas with PU-wrapped handles in both straight and folding styles, such as the elegant model 33-196. This 23-inch, eight-rib, stick umbrella with a PU-wrapped handle is available in either candy stripes or leopard print and sells for US$2.00-2.50 each.

"People want slimmer lines and the PU-wrapped handle looks more elegant, classic and colour-matching," observes Ms Cheung.

The firm's cute children's umbrellas meet safety considerations, such as EN71, and are non-toxic. A good example is model 33-198, a 19-inch, eight-rib, red-checked umbrella with transparent PVC windows on the canopy. It is unit-priced at US$1-2.

Buyers looking for alternatives to umbrellas can consult manufacturers such as Shing Lung Rain Garments Fty Ltd, which has been making raincoats and outerwear since 1978.

"We use nylon/PU for raincoats instead of PVC because it is light and waterproof, and because Europe has banned the use of PVC that contains phthalates," says Senior Marketing Executive Daisy Lam, adding that the US and Japan have followed suit. "Non-phthalate PVC is also more expensive."

Rainwear comprises 30%-40% of turnover, while outerwear makes up the bulk of orders from customers based in northern Europe (Denmark, Sweden and Norway), Germany, the UK and Japan.

A popular seller is a two-tone, children's rain jacket with a hood and covered zip (model 2410 at US$10 each FOB Hong Kong). "It looks like a regular jacket and can be worn as casual wear," says Ms Lam, adding that the jacket has a 2,000mm/H2O waterproof coating.

The OEM producer has branched into OBM, launching its Kary Daniel brand onto the Chinese mainland market. "There has been a good response in northern China," says Ms Lam.

Kidswear is in the US$8-20 unit price range, while adult garments start from US$10 up to US$50-plus, depending on the style and fabric. "We offer good quality," says Ms Lam, adding that the company will focus more on hi-tech wear in the future.

Come rain or shine, Hong Kong has all weather conditions covered with high quality, practical products at competitive prices.


Hongkong Umbrella Co Ltd
Bangkok Bank Bldg
18 Bonham Strand West
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2890-6630
Fax: 852-2890-9221
Web: www.hkumbrella.com.hk
Year Established: 2004
Major Product Categories: all kinds of umbrellas
Brands & Certificates: Baleno, Shanghai Tang, Hugo Boss, Bally
Minimum Order: 2,000 pieces per style
Monthly Production Capacity: 3,000 dozen
Delivery Time: 55 days
Factory Size & Location: 1,100 square metres; Shenzhen
Workforce: 150
Shing Lung Rain Garments Fty Ltd
Rms E-F, 15/F
On Fook Ind Bldg
41-45 Kwai Fung Crescent
Kwai Fong, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2612-1676
Fax: 852-2612-1321
Web: www.shinglung.com
Year Established: 1978
Major Product Categories: men's/ women's/ childrenl's wear, rainwear, outerwear, sportswear, industrial wear
Brands & Certificates: Daisy US, Kary Daniel
Minimum Order: 800-2,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: 50,000-80,000 pieces
Delivery Time: 70-80 days
Factory Size & Location: 1,155 square metres; Dongguan
Workforce: 200
Sinobest Umbrella Co Ltd
Rm 2616,
Hong Kong Plaza
188 Connaught Rd West
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2517-8938
Fax: 852-2517-0752
Web: www.sinobest.com.hk
Year Established: 1988
Major Product Categories: umbrellas & raincoats
Brands & Certificates: ISO 9001
Minimum Order: 1,200 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: 15,000 dozen
Delivery Time: 40-50 days
Factory Size & Location: 5,100 square feet; Huiyang
Workforce: 200
Sunrise Umbrellas Etc Ltd
Unit V, 7/F, Blk 1
Kin Ho Ind Bldg
14-24 Au Pui Wan St
Shatin, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2368-8471
Fax: 852-2369-8427
Year Established: 1997
Major Product Categories: umbrellas
Brands & Certificates:
Minimum Order: 1,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: 20,000 dozen
Delivery Time: 40 days
Factory Size & Location: 5,000 square metres; Fujian
Workforce: 400
Tai Tung Umbrella Mfg Fty Ltd
228 Ki Lung St
Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2728-8632
Fax: 852-2725-1525
Web: www.taitung.com.hk
Year Established: 1981
Major Product Categories: umbrellas
Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 3,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: 300,000 pieces
Delivery Time: 50 days
Factory Size & Location: 3,000 square metres; Shenzhen
Workforce: 300
Tai Wah Umbrella Industry (HK) Co Ltd
Unit B, 8/F
Valiant Industrial Centre
2-12 Au Pui Wan St
Fo Tan, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2687-3403
Fax: 852-2687-2548
Web: www.taiwahumbrella.com
Year Established: 1985
Major Product Categories: Umbrellas
Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 2,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: 30,000 to 35,000 dozen
Delivery Time: 60 days
Factory Size & Location: Shenzhen, Fujian
Workforce: 250
Vanguard Shoe Co Ltd
Unit 11, 15/F
New Commerce Centre
19 On Sum St
Sha Tin, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2645-0129
Fax: 852-2144-5806
Web: www.vgdboot.com
Year Established: 1999
Major Product Categories: boots
Brands & Certificates: Aqua
Minimum Order: 2,000 pairs
Monthly Production Capacity: -
Delivery Time: 60 days
Factory Size & Location: -
Workforce: 400