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Umbrellas(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 12,2004)

Vol 12, 2004






Product Features

Baby Products
A Growing Business

Umbrellas
Singing In The Rain

Umbrellas

Singing In The Rain

Photo
Nelson Umbrella Co Ltd offers a complete range of manual and automatic umbrellas in eye-catching designs and unusual prints
No one is quite sure who invented the umbrella: some say it was the Chinese while others believe it was the Egyptians. However, history does record that Roman women were the first to waterproof paper sunshades and use them to stay dry in the rain.

Traditional styles are still going strong and demand is increasing overseas for Chinese-style oilpaper umbrellas, according to Nelson Umbrella Co Ltd marketing executive Vivian Fung.

This firm also produces children's and beach umbrellas, as well as lightweight folding styles and the cases and covers to go with them. "Our most popular model at present is the golf umbrella, usually in dark colours," says Fung.

Europeans and Americans prefer bigger-sized, plain umbrellas, while people in Hong Kong and Japan like smaller, lightweight models with logos and patterns.

"In Japan, especially, umbrellas are seen as fashion items, and we look to that market for new ideas. If there's a new style there, we'll have it in Hong Kong soon after," Fung claims.

Founded in 1983, Nelson Umbrella produces 9,000 dozen umbrellas each month at its factory on the Chinese mainland. Minimum order size is 500 umbrellas and delivery is 35-45 days after order confirmation. Prices depend on styles and quantities ordered.

Access Enterprise Co also offers the popular golf umbrella. "These umbrellas account for about 70% of our business," says sales and marketing manager Denny Hui.

Design varies according to the market, he adds. "Our US customers prefer simple styles with large logos. Europeans, on the other hand, like to have a design across the whole surface of the umbrella."

Hui says that while some customers use their own designers, Access Enterprise has an in-house team available to work with clients and ensure their logos and corporate colours are well placed. "Also, quality is improving all the time," says Hui, pointing to the increasing use of fibreglass for umbrella ribs.

Once designs are chosen, customers usually demand high quality printing. "We have in-house printing facilities, a feature not offered by all umbrella factories," claims Hui, emphasising the importance of quality control.

Access Enterprise's 120 workers produce 200,000 umbrellas each month, specialising in advertising and promotional styles. FOB Hong Kong unit prices range from US$1-5.

Meanwhile, Rain Power Ltd general manager Emily Lo says the firm prefers to concentrate on mid- to high-end products. "So we need to be very aware of the quality of the fabrics we use," she says. "We also import top quality aluminium from Taiwan and Japan, to make sure our umbrellas will last and not break easily."

Founded in 1995, Rain Power manufactures under its own Happy Rain brand name and supplies umbrellas to leading brands including Esprit, Benetton, Bossini and Giordano, Lo claims.

Although clients sometimes supply design ideas themselves, Rain Power's team of in-house designers follows fashion trends very closely. They are especially interested in working with the latest colours for shoes and handbags. "At the moment, we're seeing a lot of purple, orange and deep red," says Lo.

The firm has offices in Hong Kong and uses three mainland factories to produce 450,000 umbrellas each month. Minimum order size is 1,500 umbrellas per colour and deliveries are made 75 days after order confirmation. FOB Hong Kong prices depend on order size and quality, but generally range from US$11-12 per dozen up to US$65 per dozen.

Umbrella customers are not just fashion-conscious and health issues are starting to affect the industry, with demand growing especially in Asia and Australia for coatings that include UV protection.

Sinobest Umbrella Mfg Co marketing manager Patrick Yu says even customers from cooler climates are starting to look for protection from the sun. "Demand from European markets for multifunction umbrellas has grown over the past few years," he says, adding that Europe is the firm's main market and the 23-inch model is most popular.

Yu says the market is increasingly competitive and this is driving prices down. "We believe this is because of better communications and the Internet as customers can more easily shop around and compare prices and styles," he says.

Sinobest produces 20,000 dozen umbrellas each month at its ISO 9001-certified mainland factory. Minimum order size is 1,200 umbrellas and deliveries are made 30 days after order confirmation. FOB Hong Kong unit prices start at US$1, while designs using lightweight aluminium cost slightly more at US$1.20-1.30.

Hong Kong umbrella manufacturers can certainly provide the choices customers are looking for: big or small, heavy or lightweight, waterproof or UV-protected, you will be well covered.

WRITTEN BY SUZANNE MOORE

Contact Details

Access Enterprise Co
Rm B, 4/F
Wing Li Commercial Bldg
168 Des Voeux Rd Central
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2815-5010
Fax: 852-2815-5006
Email: info@accesshk.com.hk
Web: www.accesshk.com.hk

Hua Yu Umbrella (HK) Co
Unit A, 19/F
Capital Trade Centre
62 Tsun Yip St
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2344-6680
Fax: 852-2357-4808
Email: huayu@netvigator.com

Nelson Umbrella Co Ltd
Unit B, 6/F
Yu Fung Commercial Centre
289 Hennessy Rd
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2511-1011
Fax: 852-2519-9411
Email: nelson@umbrella.com.hk
Web: www.umbrella.com.hk

Rain Power Ltd
Unit 901, Tower 3
China Hong Kong City
33 Canton Rd
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2302-1811
Fax: 852-2302-1680
Email: rainpower@netvigator.com
Web: www.happy-rain.de

Sinobest Umbrella Mfg Co
Rm 2108 Hong Kong Plaza
188 Connaught Rd West
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2517-8938
Fax: 852-2517-0752
Email: info@sinobest.com.hk
Web: www.sinobest.com.hk

Wing Tat Trading Enterprise Ltd
7/F
Bedford Ind Bldg
51 Bedford Rd
Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2381-0117
Fax: 852-2380-6503
Email: wingtat@hkstar.com

Yu Lung Umbrellas Co Ltd
Flat A, 28/F
Shield Ind Centre
84-92 Chai Wan Kok St
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2413-2622
Fax: 852-2415-2391
Email: yulung88@hkstar.com
Web: www.yulungumbrella.com