31 March 2004
Hong Kong Household
Vol. 2, 2004
Wellcheer Industries Ltd majors in wrought iron items like barstools, vanity stools, coffee tables, wine racks and fireplace screens
From practical storage racks to artistic candleholders, the range of metal houseware is almost infinite. However, whatever the product, Hong Kong metalware manufacturers are adept at either modifying designs to suit customers' requirements or making items to exact specifications.
A company with a strong understanding of market fundamentals is Wellcheer Industries Ltd, a division of Ching Kee Rattan Fty. It produces a range of household metalware in what managing director King Lee describes as the "American traditional" style. "We major in barstools, vanity stools, coffee tables, wine racks and fireplace screens in wrought iron," he says.
The varying array of items is reflected in the prices, which range from US$8-80 FOB Hong Kong. "Most of the items are tailor-made for customers according to their designs," he says.
While the majority of its customers are in the US, the company is looking to build up a market in Europe because it is "not as competitive" as North America.
Items are produced at the company's 20,000-square-metre, 300-worker factory in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland. "We require a minimum order of 10 items in one TEU and our delivery time is 30 days," says Wong.
Another company with products geared to the North American market is Topfair Industries Ltd, which manufactures a comprehensive range of items for the home, including metal storage racks.
"We produce these mainly for department stores and mail-order houses in Canada and the US," says marketing executive Gary Cheng. "We pay attention to what our buyers want; so the styles and looks suit these markets. Most incorporate wooden elements, such as pine, and are modern in style."
The range includes shoe racks and wine racks. Steel is used predominantly, sourced from the mainland and Taiwan, while wood comes from the mainland and Malaysia.
Items are produced in Topfair's two mainland factories, in Guangdong Province, with a total workforce of 800-1,200.
"We have a capacity of about 10,000 pieces for these kinds of products per month, depending on size," says Cheng. "We introduce new items every three months as we are constantly developing new furniture."
The minimum order for racks is 1,000 pieces per style and delivery takes 50-60 days. FOB Hong Kong prices are available on request.
Racks are also a speciality of Cheerfix Ltd, a manufacturer with plants in Weizhou and Shantou on the mainland. "We produce one model in wire and another in steel tubing, and will supply different sizes according to our clients' orders," says marketing manager Allen Wong.
The wire comes from Taiwan and the mainland, while the steel is imported from Taiwan.
"Our Shantou factory opened in 1991 and has about 300 workers," he says. "Almost five years ago, we opened a bigger plant in Weizhou with 500 workers to cope with future expansion. Together, these plants produce about 160,000 FEUs of goods per month." Of this quantity, some 60% goes to the US and 30% to Europe, particularly Germany and the Netherlands.
"European buyers like electroplating, chrome finishes and a trendy look while the US market prefers cheaper items and large quantity orders," he adds.
Wong notes that because the racks are bulky, a minimum order of one TEU is required. "FOB Hong Kong price is about US$20 for steel racks and items made of wire are also similarly priced," he says. Delivery is within 45-60 days of a confirmed order.
Getting away from storage racks to more decorative products, Rayford Enterprises Ltd is known for modern silverware, including candlestands, tableware and vases produced under its H.R.W. Fink label.
Among its new designs scheduled for launch at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair in April is "Chili". This candleholder, which combines glass with silver, has three heads and evolved out of a similar design with a single head.
"We are the Hong Kong branch office of the Gilde Group of Germany, where all products are designed," says general manager Lily Lai. "We combine modern European designs with cost-effective manufacturing on the mainland. We focus on style, shape and quality. With silverware, quality is critical - there is no tolerance for any defect."
She adds that the company is very flexible and will work with customers' specifications, such as providing different finishes. "As well as silver plating, we can offer a gold colour or chrome, for example."
Materials, including iron, zinc alloy, brass, silverplate and glass are sourced from the mainland, with items produced at the company's factories either there or in Europe.
A minimum order is 50-500 pieces per style, depending on size, and delivery takes 60-90 days after order confirmation. The FOB Hong Kong price for its popular five-head candlestand is about US$60, while a 15-head model costs US$130.
Rayford's major markets are in Europe, particularly Germany, France and Greece. "We are developing new markets in the US, Canada, Australia and Asia," says Lai. "Recently, we received good feedback from Indonesia, Thailand, Korea and Japan."
With a sharp eye on latest trends, Hong Kong manufacturers of metal houseware have continued to weld together a global customer base for their products.
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS
No. 32, 15/F
Man King Bldg
Man Wui St
Lee Trading Co Ltd
Units 5-6, 6/F, Blk A
Po Yip Bldg
62-70 Texaco Rd
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
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