1 April 2003
The Cutting Edge(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 01,2003)
Vol. 1, 2003
Wingar Holdings Ltd
Wingar Holdings Ltd's strongest category is plain stainless steel flatware, with the company offering about 200 different patterns.
CUTLERY and flatware manufacturer Wingar Holdings Ltd has emerged as one of Hong Kong's largest producers of stainless steel tableware at its 70,000 square-metre-factory in Xiamen City in the Chinese mainland's Fujian Province.
Sourcing 800-1,000 tonnes of stainless steel each month from Germany, Japan and South Korea, the company produces up to 10 million items including knives, flatware and kitchen tools.
Sixteen-year-old Wingar started out on a relatively modest scale. "We began making sets of kitchen knives in wooden blocks because our founder had experience in this product," says sales and marketing officer Tina Lam.
As competition grew, and began to cut into profit margins, Wingar branched out into new areas. "We began making flatware in 1988, and added kitchen tools in 2000," Lam adds.
Wingar's production today breaks down into flatware (80%), kitchen tools (15%) and knives (5%). The company maintains an inventory of 500 flatware patterns for outdoor, everyday or formal occasions.
"Our prices range from low- to high-end, but our medium- to high-priced flatware sells best in the US. We make plain stainless steel flatware and stainless steel models with plastic or wooden handles," Lam says.
High-end items are made of 18/10 stainless steel while 18/0 stainless steel is employed for less expensive lines.
Europe accounts for 50% of sales and the US 35%, with the rest divided between South Africa and Latin America. Wingar sells under its Master Chef brand in the Americas, but accepts both OEM and private label orders from elsewhere.
Lam says Wingar would like to expand into other markets. "We are looking at Russia and Eastern Europe, but the price range would depend on the buying power," she says. "We would also like to try selling within Asia, especially the Chinese mainland."
A best seller is a "simple and elegant" stainless steel line devoid of any intricacies in pattern. Plain stainless steel flatware is Wingar's strongest category, with the company offering about 200 different patterns, while forged steel items are a new trend.
For outdoor or everyday use, demand for stainless steel flatware with plastic handles remains consistent. Handles shaped in the form of bamboo, vegetables or in black-and-white zebra patterns are among the many choices.
Santoprene, a new synthetic material for handles, is also available in a range of colours and offers a non-slip grip.
Wingar's team of 12 designers turns out about 20 new patterns a year, adding to its existing inventory. The firm believes its innovative approach and stable customer relationships are important to maintain success.
Controlling production costs is a major goal and the company keeps careful cost records and looks for ways to minimize expenditure in every department.
Wingar has registered sales growth of over 10-20% annually from the start. "We haven't had any major problems and we avoid mistakes by listening to our customers," says Lam, noting that Wingar has found a formula that works and intends to stick with it.
WRITTEN BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
Wingar Holdings Ltd
Rm 1103, Evergy Plaza,
92 Granville Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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