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Plated To Perfection(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 02,2006)

Petek Co Ltd

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Petek Co Ltd has exported a wide range of silver-plated and stainless steel houseware items for 24 years

One way to counter market stagnation is to offer a wide range of products, which is the approach taken by Petek Co Ltd. Having exported plated giftware and stainless steel houseware items for some 24 years, the firm is well placed to handle global orders for large and small quantities.

Petek mostly produces large orders for a multitude of speciality items, and has a product catalogue of more than 4,000 different items and variations on a theme. The firm's showrooms are virtual Aladdin's Caves filled with silver treasure.

There are different showrooms for different lines: the silver-plate selection, for example, includes everything from candelabra to ornate trays and cruet sets, while stainless steel items include all kinds of wine accessories, coffee and tea sets, canisters and assorted kitchenware such as kitchen tools, blenders, sifters and tongs. There is also tableware in all forms, from large serving items to napkin rings.

"We work closely with our clients, helping them to develop winning lines," says managing director Peter Kwok. "Sometimes, OEM clients provide the drawings for us to follow and sometimes we employ the talents of our own designers."

Kwok says that Petek creates about 20-30 new items a year. "We often look at a product and see if we can improve it by adding, say, glass or marble," he reveals. "So a single item may well result in a complete range of six or eight products designed around the same theme."

He says that mix-and-match items that combine different materials are always popular. "Glass is a favourite material," he notes, "while the pairing of marble also makes for a very classy finish."

Silver-plate and stainless steel items form the bulk of Petek's range - although it also offers gold-plated items, pewter, brass, nickel and chrome. However, demand for silver plating is declining.

"In 1997 and 1998, demand for silver-plating was strong," says Kwok. "It has since progressively dropped off and so fewer factories are in this sector today. Only the best can survive, and those unable to match the quality offered by the leading firms have already folded."

Another key to survival, he says, is retention of key customers. "This is why consistent quality is so important. We have a few specialist customers and we understand their requirements."

Being in the metal houseware sector brings its own difficulties, as metal prices tend to fluctuate regularly. "This year, especially during the past few months, the price of zinc alloy has shifted considerably," says Kwok. "The price has moved from HK$18,000 to HK$22,000 per tonne, an increase of 22%."

In response, Petek is urging clients to switch to more steadily-priced stainless steel or iron. "It is not useful to just quote a price outside a buyer's budget, so we try to discuss the problem in detail with the client and work something out," says Kwok. "Usually, we can predict our metal consumption in the near term as we know what orders we have in hand, but the maximum time for that is 2-3 months. After that, it becomes much more difficult."

Despite all the problems, Kwok states that Petek will never compromise quality for price. "If we cannot maintain our quality standards at the price asked, we just say 'sorry'. Our business keeps going thanks to our consistent quality."

This policy, though, does not apply to the promotional items that form a major part of Petek's business. "These items are usually bought in big quantities and the buyers need low prices, and that has to be worked out," says Kwok. "This is usually big business for us."

Petek's main markets are North America and Europe. "Canada, although a small market, is a good market," says Kwok, revealing that Petek works with some 20 associated factories on the mainland. "We have very close relationships and we choose our partners based on their reliability and production expertise."

The company continues to reach for high exposure by attending important trade fairs. "We go to Chicago in March, for example, and attend the April and October shows in Hong Kong," says Kwok. "We used to go to Frankfurt and Milan, but not this year."

It seems clear that for promotional or houseware goods in silver plate, stainless steel or any other metal, Petek will be there to assist.

WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON

Petek Co Ltd

Unit 1907-08, Tower A,
Regent Centre,
63 Wo Yi Hop Rd,
Kwai Chung,
New Territories, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-8209-8326
Fax: 852-8209-8366
Email:
info@petek.com.hk