3 July 2007
Picture Perfect(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 07,2007)
Photo Frames & Albums
|Chu Kwun Kee Metal Mfy Ltd finds its silver photo frames are a perennial favourite among buyers in the US, Canada and Europe|
There are some products that simply have "Hong Kong first" stamped all over them. Such is the nature of the photo frames and albums sector, where Hong Kong holds a dominant position
Photo frames and albums hold pictures of loved ones and as such are typically chosen with care. Fortunately, Hong Kong companies offer a variety of materials, sizes and styles to suit every taste and need.
For example, one of Asia's largest photo frame manufacturers is Chu Kwun Kee Metal Mfy Ltd. The firm offers a diverse range of stamped, roll-formed and die-cast metal frames, along with plastic and handmade wooden frames, albums and photo boxes to markets in Japan, North America and Europe.
Established in 1963, Chu Kwun Kee started out making wind chimes and began manufacturing photo frames in 1978. With its ISO 9001 certification, the firm is committed to providing the highest quality through vertical integration of its production processes.
With several thousand designs in its inventory, the OEM/ODM firm produces four million frames per month at its two factories in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
Metal frames in aluminium, steel and zinc alloy are the best-selling product category, with FOB Hong Kong unit prices ranging from US$0.50-20.00. "We have several kinds of customers," says assistant marketing manager Chris Law. "One is looking for gift items for, say, babies or weddings, and the other market mainly wants designs in trendy colours."
In recent years, the company has leaned more in the direction of combination materials in frames, such as metal and plastic, or wood and metal. "Premiums also account for a strong proportion of sales," Law says, adding that no minimum order requirement applies and that deliveries are shipped 45-60 days after order confirmation.
For DMC Products Ltd, the signature style for its photo frames and albums is modern, streamlined designs. The company makes use of wood (walnut, maple and plywood), MDF, metal (stainless steel and aluminium) and acrylic, PVC and EVA.
"Walnut and plywood are the most popular for frames and albums," explains senior designer Terry Yam. "People like walnut because it looks expensive, while younger buyers tend to buy plywood because the price is lower."
Unit prices start at US$1.50 FOB Hong Kong for plywood frames, and rise to US$6.50 for walnut frames. Larger frames, such as 6x4- or 7x5-inch, are currently in vogue in its main markets of Japan, the US and Europe, although the company also takes orders for 2x3-inch and 10x8-inch sizes.
Yam says a popular line is the firm's colour-changing series of frames that sell for US$3.30-5.40 each and employ magnets that allow a user to alter the colour of the frame.
The company prides itself on being a reliable OEM/ODM partner, accepting minimum order values of US$3,000 for delivery 40 days after order confirmation. Production takes place at a 30,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan on the mainland, and premiums account for 30% of sales.
Besides frames and albums, four-year-old DMC Products also manufactures a variety of lifestyle products. These include vases, trays, stationery, bath items and candleholders.
Established in 1986, ISO 9001- and FSC-certified Laurence Frame Art Ltd is best known for its wooden frames (80% of production) but also produces frames made of foam plastic. The OEM/ODM firm maintains an inventory of more than 1,000 styles and closely follows product developments in its major markets of the US, Europe and Australia.
"Our EU customers want basic frames in brighter colours with narrow borders, while the US prefers fancier, thicker borders in black, walnut or white," says marketing manager Candy Cheung.
Traditional frames are its forte, although this year the company began adding metal accessories for an extra decorative effect. The firm has also introduced wooden/MDF combination frames.
Sizes for medium-priced frames range from 1.5x2.5- to 3x5-inch, and one top-seller is a collage frame that can hold nine photos. It is priced at US$7 FOB Hong Kong.
The final appearance of its frames is the company's pride and joy. "We care a lot about the finish, and we use varnish, sanding and paint that is applied by hand and machine," adds Cheung.
Minimum order is one TEU, and deliveries go out 45-75 days after order confirmation, depending on the items ordered. More than 500 workers at the company's 150,000-square-metre factory in Guangdong Province can produce one million frames per month.
A popular seller from Hong Kong Magnetic Products Ltd is its series of cheerful cartoon-style zodiac frames (US$0.45 each FOB Hong Kong). The frames are magnetic for easy attachment to refrigerators and other metal objects. "The photo simply slides between the frame and the fridge," explains sales manager Michelle Tang.
Photo frames account for about 10% of production at the mostly OEM company, founded in 2000, while refrigerator magnets and industrial magnets represent the remainder. Both epoxy and flat magnet photo frames are available, with a minimum order of 2,000 pieces per design. The firm ships to its main export markets in Europe 20 days after order confirmation.
Clearly in the picture, Hong Kong companies offer framing solutions for all purposes.
TEXT BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
Hong Kong Magnetic Products Ltd
Unit A5, 5/F, Phase 6
HK Spinners Ind Bldg
481 Castle Peak Rd
Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon