8 Jan 2009
Neat & Tidy(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 01,2009)
Fitting this mould is Hugogate Ltd, which offers electronic, motorised and patented tie-racks for executives on the go. "We put a lot of time into coming up with this innovative product," says General Manager Joe Chan. "We figured we could help improve the quality of life for management-level executives."
The firm modified its mission statement - to make your life easier, to add to the quality of your life - in April 2008 by adding the term "expert in executive lifestyle" to its branding.
"Our product line today includes battery-operated electronic tie-racks, shoe cleaners and shoe sterilisers," says Mr Chan, adding that the firm also offers a series of battery-operated indoor/outdoor personal fans.
"We did a simulation test for the tie-rack, and assumed that a user had 30 ties. We found that it would take him about three minutes each morning to make a choice. We also discovered that the batteries will last for 733 cycles, which is about two years' operation if a person selects a tie from Monday to Friday."
Tie rack model TR2 holds 70 ties and four belts, and rotates right or left at a touch. There is an LED on/off indicator for the four C-cell batteries. Another model, TR3, holds 30 ties and two belts.
"Meanwhile, the executive version of our electric shoe cleaner features two rotating speeds, one for polishing and one for brushing, it has low noise, a one-button, streamlined design and a durable case," says Mr Chan.
"All of our products are certified or compliant with RoHS, CE, PAH (Germany) requirements, and we have worldwide patent coverage for various models," he adds. "The point of having the patents is to give clients confidence in our products while gaining some protection against copycats."
The firm operates four main sales channels covering retail, mail order, wholesalers and importers. "We work with Marks & Spencer in the UK, and with [retailer] Tchibo, and [mail order firm] Dmail in Italy," Mr Chan says. "We also have buyers in Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Italy [OEM sales to Fiamma]."
In North America, Hugogate does business with regular client Coolstuff, and the retailer Wild Tie. "We have sales in the Middle East, Israel and Turkey, and in Latin America, including Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. Meanwhile, Estonia and Russia are new markets for us."
In Asia, the company is presently selling into Japan (mail order firm Men's Times), Singapore, Korea (mail order firm Sevo) and Malaysia. "However, Australia is the biggest market in Asia-Pacific for our tie- racks, with solid purchases from Howards Storage World," says Mr Chan.
"For the future, we are thinking innovation, design and value-added for our new products. While competitors on the mainland can offer rock-bottom prices, they find it hard to match our quality and patented goods," he says. "Also, we will continue to build our brand and bring out new and special items."
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON