1 Oct 2003
Hong Kong Gifts, Premiums and Stationery - Fair Review
Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee Hwa (centre), accompanied by TDC chairman Peter Woo (right), takes an interest in some of the exhibits at the combined fair
Thousands of buyers seeking functional and creative products, and manufacturers offering a vast range of high quality, value-for-money items, turned out en masse at the recent combined Hong Kong Gifts & Premium and Houseware fairs.
The four-day show, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from July 23-26, indicated that Hong Kong, Asia's trade fair capital, continues to be the ideal venue to find innovative ideas, place orders, replenish dwindling inventories and forge new business relationships.
Visitors to the twin fairs, the bulk of them from overseas, exceeded expectations, reaching 62,365, according to the organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC). This reflected a 10% increase on the previous year.
More than 3,800 exhibitors from 31 countries and regions participated in the combined show.
The July edition was a follow-up to the merged fairs held in April, when many buyers and exhibitors were deterred by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak.
The chief executive and TDC chairman are attracted by some of the colourful products on display
In a show of high level support for a major trade show scheduled after the virus had abated, Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa made a special visit to the event, accompanied by TDC chairman Peter Woo.
Overseas buyers were encouraged by the big turnout of exhibitors, the many country pavilions, and the goods on offer.
Milton Bento da Silva Filho, of Casa & Construcao, Brazil's largest retail construction materials chain, said: "We are interested in many kinds of products such as houseware, furniture, glassware and dishes. We have seen some nice dishware designs from Vietnam and the Chinese mainland and we've seen a lot of glassware."
Masakazu Yoshida, a director of BALS Corp of Japan, which has 60 home furnishing retail shops in the country, said: "Each fair has its specialty and Hong Kong is known as a place where you can find manufacturing partners, but that's changing.
"Now you can also find original items that you want to buy. So far, I've found some stationery items and I'm looking for kitchen tools. I am looking for anything where the quality is good and the price is low. I visited the Indian Pavilion and found some innovative glasses and photo frames."
Buyers also found great value in the seminars which discussed issues such as interdisciplinary lifestyle trends in 2004; export credit insurance; ways to maintain cash flow with international factoring; handling arbitration on the Chinese mainland; and DIY market development on the mainland.
TDC executive director Michael Sze (right) joins in the fun at the combined fair
Insights offered by specialists in these fields were supplemented with high quality products displayed at the Hall of Elegance and the Hall of Fine Designs. There was also a showcase of houseware products at the atrium.
Exhibitors found the fair a perfect platform to spotlight their creative ideas.
Sweda Ltd, a manufacturer of watches and electronic items such as radios, digital cameras and clocks, introduced a new "Scrolling Message" line of products.
The series features a watch, desk clock, desktop radio and an outdoor radio, each with space for a scrolling advertising message, time and calendar information.
Kano Ha, regional sales manager (Asia & the Middle East), felt products incorporating extra functions and innovative concepts were a hallmark of the company. "Everyone wants unique ideas, new functions and new gimmicks."
The heads of many country pavilions underlined the business value of the exhibitions to their participating companies.
"Our members treat this fair as their main Asian show," observed Lori Szudarek, manager for international services at Int'l Housewares Assn (IHA).
Seven members of the association represented the US, displaying products such as candles and candleholders, placemats, coasters, glassware, bakeware, waste baskets and storage, and cake decorating items.
Szudarek pointed out houseware sales in the US were being driven by a greater emphasis on home decor and entertaining. "People want to make their homes a more luxurious place, and this creates a need for both indoor and outdoor products."
She noted that sales of kitchen and bathroom products and outdoor decks and grills, in particular, had risen significantly. She was looking forward to accompanying a larger group of US companies next year.
Vietnam, which was represented by 13 companies, showcased handicrafts, ceramics, lacquerware and woven baskets.
"Most products are handmade and many of the companies are from South Vietnam," said Lai Tri Moc, general manager of Vietnam Housewares based in Ho Chi Minh City. The company offers baskets woven from sea grass and water hyacinth.
Thomas Buscher, Product Manager of Correct Pro GmbH, said: "We are an importer selling promotion items, household goods and premiums to warehouses, supermarkets and mail order houses in Germany. I have been visiting this fair for the last eight years."
Pointing out that the fairs were "especially important to us", Buscher noted that he had "already ordered goods from 10 companies, buying items including pens, calculators, backpacks, table clocks and umbrellas, mostly from Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan."
Overall, the enthusiastic response of the thousands of buyers underlined organising committee chairman Jeffrey Lam's declaration that the fairs were a premier, "not-to-be-missed" sourcing opportunity.
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