13 Oct 2004
Hong Kong Gifts, Premiums and Stationery
Bar & Drinks Accessories
Shell Juli (HK) Co Ltd uses seashells such as paua shell (top) and mother-of-pearl to create eye-catching letter openers
Sometimes the simplest things in life can be the most useful tools. It is no different, for instance, with the ubiquitous letter opener. Hong Kong manufacturers excel at making attractive letter openers that can cut smoothly through the toughest envelope.
A company that is well-known for its innovative designs is Shell Juli (HK) Co Ltd, which incorporates exotic shells from Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia in its letter openers. "Our designs are inset with black or white mother-of-pearl and paua shell from New Zealand," says general manager Florence Harm.
"We use tin alloy, zinc or brass for the base and the shells make a luminous surface. They are very popular as corporate gifts. We use the latest technology in our factories in Qingdao and Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, including laser engraving and marking," she says.
The two ISO 9001-certified factories, which employ about 2,000 workers, also produce costume jewellery and gift items from shell and mother-of-pearl. Monthly production of all products is about 360,000 pieces. Established in 1990, the company now has annual turnover of US$15m.
FOB Hong Kong prices of its letter openers range from US$1-3. "We require a minimum order of 20 dozen in each style, size and colour, and the value of each shipment must total US$1,500," Harm explains. Delivery takes around four weeks after order confirmation.
"Our main markets are the US, Europe, Japan and the mainland. We also sell to South America, Africa and Cyprus," Harm adds.
A veteran producer of letter openers is Ascent Accessories Ltd, which specialises in attractive and functional designs, according to sales executive Isaac Tsang. "Our team of in-house designers constantly produces new styles which are greatly in demand as gifts."
Ascent does not have its own brand name, but undertakes OEM contracts "for many well-known companies, especially in Japan, where we make for a well-known chain of department stores," Tsang says.
He adds that the company promotes its products at a number of trade fairs, including those organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which has resulted in valuable new contacts.
The 20-year-old company has a record of producing fine quality products on time, Tsang claims. Its 20,000-square-metre factory in Shenzhen on the mainland makes about 50,000 letter openers a month using aluminium, zinc alloy, stainless steel, steel and brass obtained from Korea and Taiwan. The ISO 9001-certified factory employs around 1,000 workers.
FOB Hong Kong prices of the letter openers range from US$0.19-1.00, Tsang says. Ascent requires a minimum order of 1,000 pieces, which are delivered within 30-35 days to its main markets in Germany, Japan and Italy.
Gold- and silver-plated letter openers with an antique finish are the speciality of Sun Sang Mfg (Int'l) Co Ltd. In-house designers create many attractive antique-finish designs that sell well as gifts to both private and corporate buyers, says sales executive Bick Lam.
"We are one of the leading manufacturers in the silver-plated zinc alloy giftware market. We have the most advanced electroplating machinery in Asia, which has its own waste water processing and recycling system," he claims.
Established in 1993, the company produces silver- and gold-plated gift items at its 200,000-square-foot, 400-worker factory in Dongguan on the mainland.
It requires a minimum order value of US$6,500 per shipment. Delivery is promised within 30-45 days after confirmation of an order to the company's major markets in the US, France, Saudi Arabia, Poland, the UK and Russia.
The forte of Keenlong Industries Ltd is innovation, according to managing director Bill Mak. "We have introduced many innovative models, including battery-operated letter openers and manual openers that allow the user to control the cutting depth," he says.
The company now pursues a policy of obtaining patent protection for its inventions. "We have a pending patent application on the manual opener. The design principle is based on a hi-tech surgical instrument used in Japanese hospitals," he explains.
"We constantly research new projects and collaborate with many leading suppliers and chain stores in developing new technology for potential products."
Established in 1988, Keenlong won the Best VIP Award in the product design campaign of the Hong Kong International & Premium Awards 2001 and the Quality Award from Staples (USA) for Best Performance in Quality Control in 2001.
The ISO 9001-certified, 50,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen employs 900 workers who produce 60,000-70,000 letter openers every month.
The FOB Shenzhen price for the manual opener is US$0.23-0.25 each and US$1.50 for the battery-operated opener. Keenlong seeks a minimum order of 2,400 pieces per item, with delivery promised in 28-45 days. The company's main markets are the US, Japan and Germany.
Thanks to cutting edge research and innovation, Hong Kong makers of letter openers are carving up increasing market share worldwide.
WRITTEN BY WINSOME LANE
Ascent Accessories Ltd
Flats J-L, 22/F, Blk 2
Golden Dragon Ind Centre
162 Tai Lin Pai Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Keenlong Industries Ltd
Rm A12, 5/F, Blk A2
Yau Tong Ind City
17 Ko Fai Rd
Yau Tong, Kowloon
Sun Sang Mfg (Int'l) Co Ltd
16/F, Blk A
Chiap Luen Ind Bldg
30-32 Kung Yip St
Kwai Chung, New Territories
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