8 Feb 2005
Tableware(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 02,2005)
The Perfect Setting
Products from companies such as Topchoice Industries Ltd, for example, grace tables around the world. "Topchoice began in 1990 as a trading firm with expertise in ceramic tableware," explains assistant marketing manager Brenda Liang. "We gradually evolved into a marketing-orientated firm focussing on creative designs and tableware innovation."
This evolution included establishing a five-strong in-house design team whose original, stylish designs embrace products, packaging and marketing materials. Production of the firm's annual creation of more than 100 new designs and monthly output of 3.5 million pieces of porcelain tableware, porcelain and accessories takes place at its factory in Handan on the Chinese mainland.
Topchoice's ISO 9001-certified plant employs more than 3,000 workers and supplies one-TEU minimum orders 45-60 days after order confirmation. "We concentrate on good quality, stylish dinnerware, coffeeware, giftware, hotelware and accessories such as flatware," Liang explains.
The company's Multiple Choice by Topchoice brand is popular in Europe, Australia, Canada, the Middle East and Asia. "Our most popular products are coffeeware, giftware and bone china," Liang notes. "We're focussing more on our bone china range and upgrading our branding accordingly."
Bone china tableware is also the forte of Stechcol Enterprise Ltd, which has been manufacturing dinnerware, coffeeware, tea sets and mugs for 23 years. The company's products include decals for porcelain, bone china and new bone china, stoneware, tiles, glassware and enamelware.
The firm imports decal colours, mainly from Germany, the UK and Japan. "We also cooperate with a UK decal company for some of our designs," says sales and marketing manager Chim Kim Chong.
Stechcol has won the international SGIA Award annually from 2001-2004 for ceramic printing and decoration design. "Our decals are lead- and cadmium-free and meet relevant European and FDA safety standards," Chim claims.
Stechcol, which specialises in OEM with high quality detail, also offers its own Stechcol brand. "We introduce more than 200 new designs each year," Chim says. "Every month, our 450 staff manufacture 15-20 TEU loads at our four factories in Shenzhen and Tangshan."
The most popular items are 15-piece traditional English tea sets, which cost between US$20-40 per set depending on the amount of gold and colours used, the decoration and the style. Minimum orders are one TEU for delivery 30-60 days after order confirmation to the UK, Australia, Russia and Germany.
Europe is also a key market for China Pearl (HK) Co Ltd, a producer of stoneware and porcelain dinnerware since 1993. "We also coordinate table and kitchen accessories and dolomite items to match our main product lines," explains general manager Anna Lam.
The ISO 9001-certified company has four house brands. "Thomson Pottery is designed for everyday use and features casual stoneware and dinnerware in basic colours with simple bands and decal decorations," Lam says. "China Pearl is for more formal occasions and features decal-decorated stone and porcelain dinnerware in assorted designs. KA is our new, contemporary design series and Senses is a simple, branded white range."
The launch of the latter two brands takes place at the 2005 Ambiente Fair in Frankfurt. "More than 50% of our output goes to the US and Canada, which are keen on stoneware," Lam maintains, "while Australia and Europe prefer porcelain."
An in-house team creates 40-60 new designs each quarter for manufacture at various associate and joint venture factories on the mainland. FOB mainland prices range from US$6-20 per four-piece dinner or tea set, for a minimum order of one TEU of assorted items delivered 45-60 days after order confirmation.
Focussing on a different line is 18-year-old Success Marketing (HK) Co Ltd, one of the largest manufacturers of melamine tableware in Asia according to assistant sales manager Kenneth Wong. "We manufacture standard, innovative, and top quality melamine tableware for children and adults," he explains.
Wong says melamine offers several advantages over other materials: "It is durable, odourless, heat resistant, non-toxic, easy to wash and practical."
Children's designs account for some 50% of the company's business, especially for the gifts and premiums market. There is also an array of licensed products, including Winnie the Pooh, Finding Nemo, Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Spiderman 1 and 2, Barbie and Peter Rabbit.
"Our most popular licensed character is Dora the Explorer, which is famous in the US," Wong says. "Disney and Winnie the Pooh are big in Japan, while bears always sell in Europe."
The company's products, manufactured at a 20,000-square-metre mainland factory in Xiamen, comply with relevant FDA and EU standards. Attractively packaged children's sets, comprising one 8-inch plate, mug, bowl and cutlery, cost about US$1 FOB Xiamen, while a 54-piece dinnerware set costs about US$15.
Minimum orders are 6,000 sets per item, usually delivered 35 days after order confirmation to markets such as Europe, Mexico, Canada and the US.
Therefore, whether it is delicate bone china or sturdy, serviceable melamine, when it comes to tableware, Hong Kong manufacturers have the styles, the decals and the prices to attract worldwide attention.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER
Success Marketing (HK) Co Ltd
Wei Yit Vacuum Flask Mfy Ltd