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Sweet Dreams (HKTDC Houseware,1999)

November 1999

Sweet Dreams
Bedroom Furniture

Prime Seat

Kitchen Companions
Cooking Appliances

On the Cutting Edge
Cutlery Sets

Sweet Dreams
Bedroom Furniture

THERE'S far more that goes into the production of bedroom furniture than one might expect. Hong Kong manufacturers are crossing well-marked design boundaries -- bringing new life to the traditional, while making "antique" out of the new.

Established in 1972, Oriental Arts & Furniture sits at the top end of the market, with typical FOB Hong Kong prices for a bedroom dresser starting at US$220 and stretching to US$380. The company specialises in hand-painted antique-look wooden furniture, screens, paintings and decorative wood products. More than 50 wooden dressers, drawers and cabinets are suitable for the bedroom.

The manufacturing process is a lengthy one. Before the carpenter crafts a piece, the wood is specially treated. Once dry, three weeks is needed for the completion of each piece. Most pieces are made from a combination of MDF (for the top surface), teak (for the frame) and plywood (for the back). Other woods such as willow and lumber are also used. The furniture is then lacquered, and the borders coloured. Finally the pieces are hand-painted by one of 200 artists at Oriental Arts' factory in Shenzhen, in mainland China.

The apparent "ageing" of each piece is the most time-demanding stage of production and can take up to two weeks depending on the required end-effect. Model 31368, priced at US$370 FOB Hong Kong, requires manifold applications of a 100-component mixture, which cracks after drying, causing an aesthetic effect similar to old, heavy wood. The final painting and colouring is done afterwards. "This is one our most popular designs," says director David Wong.

Other best-selling designs include a leather-look, three-drawer wooden dresser with a flower and bird design (31362) priced at US$380, and a two-drawer, white polished dresser with a blue and white flower design (31269) priced at US$290.

Customers include wholesalers, importers and top-end department stores, including Harrods in the UK and Bloomingdale's in the US. Major markets are the US and Europe.

Minimum order value is US$8,000 for an assortment of pieces, for delivery 2-3 months after order confirmation. Oriental Arts makes 1,300-1,500 pieces a month.

King Lee, general manager of Ching Kee Rattan Fty, says the company has newly re-introduced the "burnt" rattan technique to its line. This classic, yet very simple process of gently burning the rattan in flames, was popular at the time when this family business was established in 1953, says Lee.

The Frame Pattern (model 315B) -- a seven-piece bedroom furniture set -- features burnt pencil rattan frames and natural core rattan for the body. FOB Hong Kong price for the set is US$424. A classic, simple six-piece set of rattan furniture (model 595) is priced at US$250. Ching Kee has 10-12 lines of bedroom furniture, and pieces can be bought individually.

"The Frame Pattern requires each piece of pencil rattan to be stapled by hand onto its body. Colours include warm brown, natural, white, white-wash, antique wash and light almond," says Lee.

The company also makes sofas, chairs and tables. Its total monthly production of furniture is 40 containers, of which bedroom furniture accounts for 10 containers. Delivery takes 30 days after receipt of L/C. Ching Kee's major customers are US importers and chain stores.

Lee says that Ching Kee's strong points are good customer service, use of high-quality rattan from Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia, low prices, and a well-run factory in Dongguan, on the mainland.

Choi Ying Kee Co Ltd, established in 1965, is a wicker furniture manufacturer and exporter that is diversifying its range of traditional wicker pieces. It now offers three lines of bedroom furniture -- wicker, wrought iron with wicker, and wicker with pine wood.

The body of each piece is made of core rattan while frames are made of rattan wicker, wrought iron or pine. The three lines comprise a total of 100 pieces, and there are more than 25 colours to choose from, the most popular being white and honey.

Managing director Stanley Fu says the in-house designer comes up with 80% of designs, while exclusive orders make up the remaining business. "The wrought iron with wicker designs are very popular among our European customers, while straight wicker is more popular in the US." Pine wood and wrought iron come from China while rattan comes from Indonesia.

From the wicker range comes a bow front six-drawer wicker chest (model Y-736B) at US$90 FOB Hong Kong, a bow front wicker night stand (Y-731B) at US$30, a single Lion headboard (Y-28/39) at US$20, and a Lion mirror (CD539) at US$16.

Minimum order is one FEU, which can be assorted. All containers are fumigated before shipment to ensure the pieces arrive in prime condition. Monthly production of bedroom furniture is 20 containers, while production of Choi Ying Kee's full range of household furniture is 60 containers per month.

Targeted at the mid-range to lower-end of the market, Faithful Int'l Trading Ltd's knock-down furniture accounts for about 90% of the firm's complete range of modern bedroom, dining and living room furniture. Sofas make up the rest.

Faithful uses a mix of MDF and plywood in most of its bedroom furniture, yet produces a small quantity of solid wood furniture. "We can do both plastic and paper lamination for our plywood and MDF furniture," says market development manager Lennon Wong. "We have an extensive range of colours to choose from -- about 50 -- including beech wood, green, black and white."

Faithful offers 10 lines of bedroom furniture. The popular Youth Bedroom range includes a bookcase headboard and bed (models F-BC102-115K and F-BD006-115K) at US$80 FOB Hong Kong for the set; dresser (F-DR016-115K) at US$50; computer desk with sliding keyboard tray and drawers (F-CD037-115K) at US$97 for the set; wardrobe (F-WA037-115K) at US$42; five-drawer chest (F-DC181-115K) at US$52; night stand (F-DC182-115K) at US$24; and shoe cabinet (F-SB160-115K) at US$20.

ISO 9002-certified Faithful also accepts OEM orders. Minimum order is one FEU for two items.

Wong says swift delivery -- 30 days after receipt of L/C -- and good customer service stemming from hi-tech machine-cutting capability are Faithful's strengths. "We meet all our customers needs and design a model according to their exact requirements. Further changes can still be made."

Established in 1980, Faithful exports mainly to Japan. Customers include retailers and mail-order companies.

Written by Zoe Lynch

Prime Seat

FROM elegant wrought iron and wicker chairs to living room armchairs with sliding foot rests, Hong Kong furniture companies make myriad chair designs to suit all occasions.

Established in 1989, Earnbusy Industrial Ltd offers customers a choice of more than 100 chair designs. Two popular ones are the wicker Sliding Chair with pull-out foot rest (model EB3769) priced at US$59 FOB Hong Kong, and the rattan peel Cane Chair (EB3768). Cushions can be made for an extra charge.

General manager Rachel Li says that about 50% of customers order from the in-house selection of designs. Customers include retailers, distributors, importers and department stores. Major markets are the US, France, Germany and Italy.

"We give a professional service to our customers -- and tell them how they can save money," says Li. "We have some very big customers, whom we have had for a long time, and we have never received a complaint. Our delivery is punctual, our quality is excellent and we have good designs."

Maximum monthly production of chairs at Earnbusy's 250-worker factory in Dongguan, mainland China, is 10,000 pieces (of standard rattan design). Rattan wicker and cane come from Vietnam and Indonesia. Minimum order is one FEU of assorted goods, for delivery 45-55 days after receipt of L/C.

Minson Ltd specialises in rattan furniture, as well as garden/outdoor furniture made of plastic, aluminium and metal. New models in the rattan line include the Boston chair (model 40319), with blue rattan seat and back and natural cane frame, and the Chicago chair with beige plastic rattan seat and back and natural cane frame (model 40316). "We trust they will be good-selling designs, both for home and restaurant use," says director Raymond Wong. "Our main target markets are the US and Europe."

Monthly production capacity of rattan furniture at Minson's rattan factory in Guangdong, on the mainland, totals about 10,000 sets (100 containers), of which rattan chairs account for 30,000 pieces (35 containers). Rattan and cane are imported from Indonesia and Myanmar, while plastic rattan comes from the mainland.

Established in 1993, Minson sells large quantities of single chairs of all materials. "Single chairs are always a good-selling item," says Wong. "They account for 40-50% of our total production of furniture." Minson also sells single chairs as part of a set, such as a set of two single chairs, one love-seat and a coffee table.

Minimum order is one FEU with a maximum mix of two models.

Established in 1993, Janton Enterprises Ltd manufactures and exports rattan and wrought iron furniture. Clients can choose from more than 200-300 chair designs, and 20-30 new designs are brought out every year.

New designs are sleek and stylish, combining a wrought iron frame and wicker or wood (Chinese pine or rubber wood) seat and back. Managing director Savio Chan says such models sell for about US$22 FOB Hong Kong per piece. More simple designs, he says, start at about US$17. PVC wicker is also used in some designs.

Chan says Janton's main competition is in Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. "Our prices are only slightly higher, but we use more hi-tech equipment than our competitors, which allows customers to easily revise the model. Almost 100% want to make slight changes to parts of the design, so most of our pieces are unique for each customer."

Machine-powered coating is applied to the wrought iron, preventing rusting and protecting against any knocks during shipment.

"Furniture fashions change about every two years, which is why we are happy to make exclusive designs for customers," says Chan.

Total monthly production of chairs is 6-8 containers. Minimum order is one FEU.

Chan says major markets are the US, New Zealand, Australia and France, with the US market absorbing 70% of total production. "We give the customer lots of flexibility," says Chan. "Each piece is semi-handmade, and our response is fast, especially for the US customers who don't want to wait."

Established in 1997, Guangdong Tony Leisure Products (Hong Kong) Co Ltd specialises in outdoor furniture made of aluminium, steel, PVC wicker, and PP and ABS. Its range of 50 chair styles includes camping chairs (aluminium frame and nylon back) priced at about US$8 FOB Hong Kong, bistro chairs (steel and aluminium) and coffee-table chairs (aluminium), both priced at US$10-11.

Monthly production of chairs at Guangdong Tony's mainland factory in Guangzhou is 5,000 pieces, or 25% of the total monthly production of furniture of 20,000 pieces. Major markets are Japan, Europe and South America, with delivery in 30 days.

Chung Kong Arts-Rattan Ltd has more than 100 chair designs, says managing director Donny Lau. Best-selling items include the PVC Villa Armchair (model K3016) -- a classic-style white rattan wicker and rattan pole chair -- and chairs with wicker woodcraft designs attached to the main body of the chair.

Lau says Chung Kong offers a choice of 10 colours, including honey, antique brown, white, oak, blue and burgundy. Antique Tea -- a mix of natural brown and honey -- is the newest colour.

Maximum monthly production at its 800-worker factory in Dongguan, on the mainland, is 30,000 pieces, of which chairs account for 15,000. Delivery takes 60 days after order confirmation.

Chung Kong also produces rattan bathroom accessories and basket ware. Major markets are the US, Australia and Europe.

Written by Zoe Lynch

Kitchen Companions
Cooking Appliances

HONG Kong exporters have extensive production experience in household appliances. They offer reasonably priced, high-quality cooking appliances that meet stringent safety standards.

Established in 1984, Dickson Industrial Co Ltd has been manufacturing cooking appliances for three years and prides itself on the innovative products it brings to the market. "Our MW-826 [US$100 FOB Hong Kong] is intended for the US and Belgium markets. The MW-814 [US$48] microwave oven is a new item and we haven't decided definitely on markets," says assistant sales manager James Mok.

Dickson also offers a convection toaster oven, model TO-890 (US$26), with options such as chrome housing, non-stick interior finish, enamel-coated bake pan, removable drip pan or cookie pan.

Production takes place at Dickson's ISO 9001-certified factory in Shenzhen, mainland China, employing a staff of 2,500. ICs for the electronic controls come from the mainland and Japan.

Mok says: "It's a competitive market but we are innovative. For example, usually the heat distribution in an oven is not so good, so we use a fan and get good heat distribution for better cooking."

Dong Ling Electrical Group Co Ltd has 10 years' experience producing cooking appliances at its ISO 9002-certified factory in Shunde, southern China. It opened its Hong Kong branch two years ago.

Its breadmakers have GS and CE approval and sell in Germany, proof of the standard to which they are manufactured. Dong Ling manufactures an assortment of cooking-related items, such as coffee makers, kettles and hand mixers.

Sales co-ordinator Canice Kan says: "We produce a few breadmakers. Some have been on the market for a while and others are new. Our breadmaker quality is quite good as we sell to Germany, Italy and Malaysia ... and from 1997 we started exporting to the US."

Model XBM-168 breadmaker sells for US$44 FOB Hong Kong. Model XB-8333 toaster, priced at US$6.20, sells well in Poland, Germany, Belgium and Russia.

Minimum order is one TEU, for delivery 30 days after confirmation of order.

Power Wing Industries, established in Hong Kong in 1994, manufactures electrical household appliances such as toasters, sandwich makers, food steamers and coffee makers at its factory in Guangdong, on the mainland. The 4,000-square-metre factory employs a staff of 300.

Says marketing manager Eddie Yip: "Competition over these few years has been a little bit tough. Some markets are not so good, like Southeast Asia. Most of our production capacity is pushed to Europe and also to the US. Since the European currency is a little bit weak [compared] to the US dollar, the market situation plus the currency situation is not so good."

Food steamer PWS-01 with 60-minute timer sells for US$9.50 FOB Hong Kong. Two-slice toaster PWT11-20 with electronic control and bun warmer is priced at US$4.80, while sandwich maker PWSM-09 is US$6.80. Production capacity for each model per month is about 40,000 pieces.

Power Wing requires a minimum order of 2,000 pieces, for delivery in 30 days. It sources PP and PC from South Korea and Taiwan.

Top Jet Int'l Ltd makes a variety of electric and electronic household appliances, including an ice-cream maker. Li Chun Yuen, assistant to the general manager, says: "We began production of this ice-cream maker last year. So far, it has not been successfully marketed as our previous agent was not very active. We have changed that situation now. The European market is the only one we tried with this one [model TS-009 at US$83 FOB Hong Kong], but now we are producing ice-cream makers for the US market."

Top Jet sources the ICs, switches and relays from Japan, South Korea and the US. "In this unit there is a compressor costing about US$32, so we cannot really reduce the price much," says Li.

The firm operates a 10,000-square-metre factory in Guangdong, on the mainland, employing 500 workers. Delivery after order confirmation takes 30-45 days, and minimum order is one TEU.

Euro Suisse Int'l Ltd recently developed three matching kitchen appliances: a cool-wall two-slice toaster (CWT-205), electric sandwich toaster (ST-888) and 360-degree concealed element cordless kettle (CEJ-3200).

"Manufacturing a set of matching appliances is difficult to do for traditional factories because they specialise in certain products and cannot make all three," explains managing director Anish Lalvani. "What we have done is have these products designed simultaneously by British designers, tooled especially for us, and manufactured in the best possible factories in mainland China."

The cool-wall toaster has a "high-rise" feature, a lever that users can push to enable small pieces of bread to be picked up easily from the toaster. It also has a "self-centring" function -- a cage squeezes the bread, allowing the heating element to get closer for a more even toasting.

The toaster has CE approval and is priced at about US$7 FOB Hong Kong, based on a minimum order of one FEU. Delivery takes 75 days after a confirmed irrevocable at sight L/C. Major markets include eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Written by Tony Henderson

On the Cutting Edge
Cutlery Sets

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HONG Kong's cutlery industry boasts several well-established companies turning out mostly four-, 12- and 24-piece in-house-designed sets in stainless steel. However, firms stress flexibility in producing to buyers' designs and order requirements.

Sun Sang Mfg Co Ltd, founded in 1981, manufactures a four-piece cutlery set (model 726), which includes a steak knife, for HK$21 FOB Hong Kong. "The set is based around a traditional, ornate design, which is very popular in Western markets. We mainly export to Europe and the US," says marketing manager Luca Chan.

Minimum order is about five cartons, as long as the number of cartons exceeds three cubic metres, "but we are very flexible", Chan says. Delivery after order confirmation takes 30-45 days. "To ensure perfect quality we have our own plating department, which checks everything we produce," Chan says.

The firm has a 700-worker, 25,000-square-metre factory in Guangdong, mainland China, which uses zinc alloy from Australia.

Wing Hung Industrial Co Ltd has been making cutlery since 1988. "We make our cutlery extremely shiny and sharp," says spokesperson Ho Kuk-hing.

The range includes 24-piece sets: model KK2008L, which sells for HK$26.50 FOB Hong Kong; model KK609H for HK$61; and model KK507H for HK$59. A four-piece set (KK205EC-4) with ABS handles sells for HK$9.40. All include a cutlery holder.

"We offer numerous different colours for the plastic ... We can accept different kinds of orders and mix them into one container," says Ho. Minimum order is 500 sets and delivery after order confirmation is 45 days. Main market is Southeast Asia.

The company has a 100,000-square-foot, 400-worker factory in Guangzhou, on the mainland, producing about 80,000 (24-piece) cutlery sets per month.

Winko Mfg Co offers knives and forks in smooth, curvy ergonomic designs. "We have our own in-house designer. We are always trying to think of the consumer, and try to come up with fresh and original ideas," says director Eddie Lo, adding, "We were founded in 1963, and have gone from strength to strength since then. You do not last that long without a strict adherence to quality."

The firm's 24-piece stainless steel flatware sets include model 710 for US$9.15 FOB Hong Kong, and model 720 for US$9.45. Minimum order is 15 cartons per item and delivery time after order confirmation is 60 days.

The company's 100,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen, on the mainland, has 600 workers and is certified to ISO 9002.

Sunnex Products Ltd has been in the business for a long time. "Since 1971 to be exact. We have established our brand for a long, long time, and have built a strong customer base," says assistant marketing manager Jensen Wu.

two 24-piece cutlery sets -- models X4683L and X4683D5 -- are offered in a dynamic array of colours, including pastel green, yellow and lime, and red, blue, dark green and dark blue.

"As well as 24-piece packs, we also offer smaller 12-piece packs," says Wu. All cutlery is made of 18/10-gauge stainless steel.

Minimum order value is US$10,000 and delivery after order confirmation takes 5-6 weeks. "We have thought a lot about the design, and developed the shape of our handles in recent years," Wu says.

The company has two factories in Shenzhen, on the mainland, totalling 450,000 square feet, with a total workforce of 1,000.

Trempest Ltd, founded in 1976, places emphasis on quality, according to marketing executive Sandra Wai. "We always try to find the best materials and produce the product by ourselves," says Wai.

The company has a 100,000-square-foot, 500-worker factory in Shenzhen, on the mainland, which uses zinc alloy from Australia.

A 51-piece flatware set (model T340) sells for US$21 FOB Hong Kong. Minimum order value is US$15,000 and delivery after order confirmation takes 45-60 days.

The firm's brand name is Queen Victoria. "We are very flexible. Sometimes we design the pattern, sometimes the customer sends in their own design for the pattern," says Wai.

Written by David C. Robinson


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