30 May 2008
Paper Profits(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 06,2008)
A niche that has stood the test of tme is proving profitable for Glory Moon Greeting Cards Co Ltd. The company has more than 40 years of experience, and a daily production capability of six million greeting cards and 300,000 paper bags and other paper products.
"When we first went into business, the greeting cards sector, as an industry, was new to Hong Kong," relates Marketing Controller Kenny Law. "The venture was successful almost immediately, and we saw tremendous increases in demand from the 1970s to the 1990s."
From basic paper greeting cards and invitations, Glory Moon has gradually moved with the times and introduced new technology to cater for modern innovations such as the musical melody card.
"Early melody cards were quite simple," says Mr Law. "Today, they are really quite sophisticated and use microchip technology to provide both fixed tunes and recording functions, which means they can be highly personalised."
Not shy about capital investments, Glory Moon has kept a watchful eye on opportunities in related products. "During the 1990s, having benefited from excellent business, we decided to expand our paper product capabilities by investing in advanced technology and machinery," states Mr Law. "This led to our second successful venture, the production of paper boxes, stationery, calendars, notebooks and paper gift bags."
By 2000, with the two lines fully on stream, Glory Moon opted to build a second factory in the north of Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland. "The new plant will soon come into operation and will be set up for gift wrap production," Mr Law promises. "We chose a location with better labour availability because the new plant, which is about six times the size of our existing Panyu facility, will become our mainland headquarters."
"While we keep our design team in service, they are not as widely deployed as before," he continues. "Also, we handle a lot of OEM orders where the designs are pre-supplied."
In this business, dealing with paper supplies requires careful attention. "Prices can change overnight and it is essential to keep a close eye on the worldwide market," says Mr Law. "The storage of bulk paper also requires care."
Glory Moon used to import paper from different countries, but as more paper mills have entered into joint-venture agreements with mainland suppliers, the bulk of the firm's needs are met by the mainland. "Recently, some customers wanted to introduce new substrates," Mr Law reveals.
Glory Moon is aware of the growing need for corporate social responsibility in a world increasingly concerned with the environment. "We are looking closely into ways and means to play a meaningful role in this aspect," Mr Law promises. "For example, using recycled paper."
In another change, he reveals that in addition to ISO standards buyers are asking for raw material content that meets standards such as the US Forest Stewardship Council certification.
The use of dyes and paints has also come under scrutiny, and Glory Moon is looking into the use of soybean oil-based inks. "Soy ink is requested and adopted in some circumstances, but thus far only when cost is not the main criteria," says Mr Law. "Only a few customers demand these inks, and then it is mainly for high-end designs."
As one might expect, the greeting cards sector is highly seasonal. "Bulk orders pour in for the Christmas season," says Mr Law, "and this is our bread-and-butter business."
Nevertheless, Glory Moon continues to diversify as far as possible. "Today, about 75% of production is Christmas-related," Mr Law says. "But, with the new facilities and increased production, we are confident we can reduce this to 50% by 2009."
Looking ahead, Mr Law says that Glory Moon would also like to have an expanded customer services division, especially given that most communications with clients come through Hong Kong.
"I would like to see service centres and marketing teams on an international or regional basis," he says. "I can also see how this would help our design team."
The ultimate goal for Glory Moon, he assures, is to produce environmentally friendly, socially responsible products in an efficient manner that also keeps costs and selling prices in the affordable range.
With such vision, it is not hard to envisage Glory Moon greeting the world with open arms for a long time to come.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON