1 Nov 2001
Kitchen Whizz (HKTDC Houseware, Vol 02,2001)
Vol. 2, 2001
ENTERING the showroom of Camford Metalware Mfg Ltd is like entering an Aladdin's cave filled with houseware. On display is every kind of kitchen tool, cookware and flatware imaginable, more than enough to satisfy the dreams of any aspiring chef.
"We started out 21 years ago, manufacturing stainless steel kitchen gadgets like juicers, graters and ice-cream cups," recalls Camford's president Terry Chan. "The turning point came in 1985, when we decided to expand our product range to cover kitchen utensils."
The next step was to set up a factory on the Chinese mainland, which Camford did in 1987, in Shenzhen. Since then, the company has carved itself a market niche, growing into an enterprise with a sales turnover of US$27m last year.
The ingredients for its success, says Chan, are "innovative designs, superb quality, mid-range price points, wide product selection and a full-service package, from design and production through to packaging".
Keeping up with market developments is vital to a successful mix. "We work mainly with stainless steel coils and sheets imported from Japan, South Korea, Germany and France. However, we keep integrating new materials into our product range - such as thermal plastics, aluminium, hard anodized and three-ply materials - in line with market trends."
Designing products from a consumer's point of view is another important ingredient. "We put deep thought into what our consumers need when designing a range, from the perspectives of both aesthetic appeal and functionality," says Chan. "All new items undergo laboratory tests before they are launched, to ensure they perform to standard."
That emphasis on quality and design is reflected in its 1,100-worker, 240,000-square-foot Shenzhen factory. The facility, which manufactures utensils and household items, has a 45-member team dedicated to design and mould-making. Two other joint-venture factories in Guangdong Province, responsible for producing cookware and cutlery, have separate design teams. Producing a total capacity of 600,000 pieces per month, these factories operate under strict quality control standards, beginning with moulding and forming, through to polishing, assembly and packaging.
Since 1990, the company has been offering its own product line under the Camford brand name. Having established a reputation for quality and style, today Camford provides OEM and ODM services to customers in Europe, North America, Australia and Southeast Asia. While 80% of its merchandise is sold directly to retailers, importers and other brand-name manufacturers buy the rest.
"Department stores are our major customers; they like the convenience of one-stop sourcing. They can find almost anything they need from our vast range," says Chan. "And with our minimum order value of US$5,000 FOB Hong Kong, it's like no minimum order per item at all."
The product range runs to 2,000 items, an inventory that keeps on growing. "Trends in kitchen appliances can be affected by interior design trends, and sometimes production techniques. It is important to keep offering new ideas to buyers," Chan says.
Among Camford's latest products are sleek, stainless steel kitchen utensils with soft grips; cookware with cast, stainless steel handles; and cookware with three-ply bodies made of stainless steel and aluminium.
There is no end, it seems, to Camford's ability to keep inventing new recipes for success.
Camford Metalware Mfg Ltd
1/F, Lin Fung Centre,
184-186 Texaco Rd,
Tsuen Wan, New Territories,
OXYGEN Ltd, a two-year-old subsidiary of the Interforce Group, has swept through the kitchenware industry like a breath of fresh air. The company's design-oriented range of kitchen appliances has found instant appeal with international customers seeking unique designs, good quality and reasonable prices.
"Our group has been specializing in providing ODM services for home electronic companies. We found more consumers were looking for unconventional products to enliven their cooking areas, so we decided to extend our business strategy," says group chairman Eric Burq. He is a man well versed in the trade: Burq is a former vice-president of Moulinex household appliances in the Asia-Pacific region.
Led by French designer Serge Kokkinis, Oxygen's eight-person international design team has developed 10 models for its debut series, including a coffee-maker, toaster, kettle, citrus press, blender and mixer. The designs feature modern, streamlined silhouettes in pastel shades.
"The inspiration for our collection comes from everything in life: architecture, movies, new cars, songs, fashion, nature, even the latest technology," says Burq, who stresses the importance of working with mechanical engineers to fine-tune ideas into workable concepts, with a strong eye on technical feasibility and cost.
"Quality is a prerequisite for today's discerning customers. We must ensure that our products possess comprehensive functions, have stable performance and meet international safety standards," says Burq. "Price is an essential concern as well, since we are targeting the mass market."
Oxygen adopts a "total quality" approach in its supply chain management, a system which has also well-served its parent group. Interforce's 30-strong office in Zhongshan, in the Chinese mainland province of Guangdong, operates not only as an R&D centre, but also exercises stringent process and quality control on its subcontracting factories. Total capacity for Oxygen's product lines is 600,000 pieces a month.
"By closely monitoring the whole production process, we can respond early to avoid deviations in quality or avert delays in shipment. This has enabled us to be more competitive and reliable in the market," says Burq.
Oxygen's products are manufactured using food-grade PP and ABS sourced from the Chinese mainland, Japan and Taiwan, and mechanical parts from the mainland and Taiwan. Minimum order is one FEU, with delivery taking 45-60 days.
Building on the strength of the group's established sales and marketing offices in the UK and France, Oxygen has already signed up major importers, brand-name manufacturers and retailers in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, offering exclusive lines to some of them. In comparison, the US accounts for a smaller market share.
"As our major market, Europe has better potential for further development. Europeans are more after trendy styles, while Americans are more conventional," says Burq.
The company is keen to expand its markets. Besides advertising in trade publications, Oxygen visits overseas clients regularly to present its latest products. It also participates in trade fairs in Las Vegas, Chicago, Germany and Hong Kong.
Encouraged by buyers' positive response, Oxygen plans to broaden the range of its forthcoming collection. "We now have 20 models under development, and we are aiming to provide 300,000 pieces per model per year," says Burq.
WRITTEN BY WINNIE HUI
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