20 March 2006
Natural Beauty(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 05,2007)
"We started out with simple hair brushes with wood handles, and have now developed multiple series of brushes for the home," says manager Hong Kwan. "For example, we have sold high-quality brush sets to Japan for quite some time now. We use wood from the Chinese guger-tree (Schima superba) mostly, which we source on the mainland."
Hong says that initial exports went mainly to Europe, in the form of hairbrushes and a selection of small fingernail brushes. These were followed by shoe brushes. "Later, we developed hairbrush sets as gifts, and quickly came to understand that there was a receptive sentiment for natural wood," he adds, noting that products in the wood-handled brushes sector range from hair to paint brushes, bath brushes, shaving brushes, toothbrushes and styling brushes.
Next off the lines were wooden massagers in the form of rollers and small hammers. "As the early products in this sector proved really popular, we decided to expand the range," says Hong. "The market really blossomed, and massagers took over as best sellers from hair brushes and are still highly popular today."
Bathroom-related products also sell well. "Following on from the positive sales of the massagers, our bathroom goods eventually became the best sellers," says Hong. "Items such as scrubbers, sponges and wash pads, all for cleaning the body, tend to sell well," he adds, noting that the materials used in the bathroom series include cotton, terry and weave materials, sisal and ramie and loofah gourds.
Then there are bathroom accessories such as wood hangers, fabric bathrobes and towels and pumice stone bodycare accessories. There is also a natural-health series of goods using natural fibres. In addition, buyers will find racks for ties and scarves, magazine racks and even bathroom slippers.
"We also have assorted kitchen items and miscellaneous goods ranging from pet houses to handbags and wooden containers and baskets," says Hong. "Smaller items of furniture, some using self-assembly techniques, go mostly to Italy. We also have outside furniture including tables and chairs, bird houses and even a mouse house."
The firm's hotel items range is another big-selling category. "This line includes shoe kits, a variety of brushes, standalone shoe brushes and shoe horns plus shoe trees," says Hong. "We also have shoe inserts that help maintain shape, and we sell a lot of these to Japan."
Europe forms the main market for Hong Luen, to the extent of accounting for more than 50% of exports. "South America, South Africa and Asia take the next largest percentages, totalling about 30%, while sales to Saudi Arabia have increased recently and generally overall sales are showing rapid growth," says Hong.
"Europe readily accepts wood as natural products continue to be sought-after in that highly traditional market," he emphasises. "We also enjoy very good sales in Japan for the same reason, while the demand for top quality is very high."
The company has its own designers and design house, besides working with custom designs from clients on an OEM basis. "We operate a factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland that has a total of 9,000 square metres of working space and more than 350 workers," Hong says.
"We also maintain a strong network of links with sub-contracting factories for products incorporating materials not handled in-house, such as plastic and nylon," he adds. "Most of the woodwork tasks are done by machine, especially for initial shaping and smoothing. However, all of the quality control and packaging tasks are done by hand."
Competition comes from domestic mainland firms, but Hong says that Hong Luen holds its own. "We can produce everything in-house, so we can control everything from materials to quality and prices," he states. "We can also quickly make up samples for clients."
Despite its long association with wood, Hong Luen also sees market openings in plastic, and plans to bring out a range of goods to serve customers' needs. "The mainstream will continue to be in wood, always targeting the higher end," assures Hong. "We really see no end to the demand for what we are best-known for."
It seems simply natural for Hong Luen Health Products Fty Ltd to continue to satisfy buyers with its dedicated approach and careful expansion plans.
Hong Luen Health Products Fty Ltd