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Umbrellas & Rain Gear(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 12,2006)

Splashing Out


A colourful range of umbrellas from Nelson Umbrella Co Ltd features models in unusual dome and star shapes that brighten up rainy days
Sooner or later it's going to rain - and the wise will always have an umbrella or suitable wet-weather gear handy. Fortunately, Hong Kong manufactures an abundance of both, at hard-to-beat prices and unmatched quality.

A manufacturer with a wide range of umbrellas is Nelson Umbrella Co Ltd, established 1983. "We mostly use polyester, nylon and pongee as the cover fabric for our umbrellas," advises marketing executive Rachel Leung.

"For local Hong Kong needs, we usually provide promotional umbrellas with logos and advertisements," she adds. "For our buyers in North America, Europe and Australia, though, we mostly supply regular, functional umbrellas for the mass-retail market."

The folding umbrella is very popular. "We have shafts with 3-5 folds," Leung advises. "The 5-section model is the smallest, and fits easily into a ladies' handbag."

Nelson also produces regular full-shaft umbrellas. "Frequently, we are working to OEM instructions rather than our own designs," Leung says.

Prices depend on the size and construction, and there is a wide range of materials to choose from in different grades. "The cheapest umbrella uses metal for the frame and the shaft and a polyester fabric for the skin," says Leung. "Functional models, with no extra printing, cost from US$2-3 each FOB Hong Kong."

She says the minimum order is 1,000 pieces and delivery is 35 days from confirmation of order from the firm's 3,000-square-metre, 250-worker factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.

For a full range of waterproof rainwear, Meon Garments Fty (established 1979) does a great job of helping to keep people in the US and Europe bone-dry. "Apart from regular rainwear we manufacture ski jackets and pants in polyester," says marketing executive Iris Fung.

Nylon PU is still popular at the low end, and PVC is used to produce basic, low-cost items suitable for children. However, EVA is becoming more popular for more upmarket raincoats. "This is especially the case in Europe and the US," says Fung. "EVA or TPU also meet the latest environmental standards in Europe."

The minimum order for rainwear garments from Meon is 1,000 pieces for delivery 90 days after confirmation of order to major markets in the US and Europe. Production takes place at the firm's three-storey, 300-worker factory in Shenzhen on the mainland.

Meanwhile, 1988-established Sinobest Umbrella Co Ltd produces reasonably-priced umbrellas and children's rainwear.

"We offer umbrellas for children and adults," says marketing manager Patrick Yu. "Our range includes standard stick forms and larger, folding types suitable as golf and beach umbrellas."

He claims that major features are the company's reasonable prices and ultra-fast deliveries. "Price and delivery are the most important things you can offer in today's market, especially in the large-quantity, promotional and gift umbrella sector."

Yu says FOB Hong Kong unit prices of promotional umbrellas can be as low as US$0.70. "For a standard type of umbrella, the unit price can reach US$5," he adds.

Sinobest also has a very versatile printing department. "Many firms are limited to printing simple designs, but we can print figures, patterns and much more," Yu claims, "all with the necessary precision and colour mix. For example, we make a printed, lace parasol for the Japan market."

Rain ponchos and raincoats are usually sub-contracted to a partner factory. "This enables us to supply these items to umbrella clients," says Yu. "However, we cater only to the children's end of that market."

The minimum order for umbrellas is 1,200 pieces for delivery 35-45 days after order confirmation to major markets in Europe, the US and Asia. Production takes place at the firm's ISO 9001-certified, 51,000-square-foot, 230-worker factory in Guangdong Province on the mainland.

Rain Power Ltd, established 1995, falls between two stools: the firm does not manufacture anything on its own premises but does more than mere trading. "We organise the manufacture of exclusive products, including umbrellas, for many distinguished clients including such household names as Esprit, Pierre Cardin, Benetton, Sisley and Happy Rain," says marketing manager Petra Wuerflingsdobler.

"For example, we are licensed by Esprit to sell its brand of umbrellas in Asia, while our sister company in Germany is also a licensee. Between us, we sold more than 10 million umbrellas in 2005."

Despite having such a fine stable of clients, Rain Power is nevertheless looking for other possibilities in the umbrella business.

"We have local distributors in Australia, Korea and the Chinese mainland, where both regular and branded umbrellas are now selling well," she adds, noting that Asian buyers tend to look for low prices and UV protection, while Europeans are more willing buy at the higher end.

"Nylon is a cheap material for the skin, but tends to lose its shape with changes in humidity, whereas polyester is more stable. We use the new, lightweight fabrics for our extremely slim aluminium shaft models. Sometimes we use fibreglass-reinforced polyester," she explains.

Minimum order is 1,000 pieces for delivery 30-80 days after order confirmation. Germany, France, the Netherlands and Russia are strong markets, but the bulk of the company's exports go to Asia. All products are manufactured on the mainland.

Come rain or come shine, Hong Kong manufacturers have an umbrella and the best wet-weather gear for one and all.



Meon Garments Fty
12/F, Blk E
Sunview Ind Bldg
3 On Yip St
Chai Wan
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2558-2227
Fax: 852-2897-3337

Ming Hing Umbrella (HK) Co Ltd
Rms 1-2, 17/F
9 Wing Hong St
Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2409-8163
Fax: 852-2409-7076
Web: www.minghing.com

Nelson Umbrella Co Ltd
Unit B, 6/F
Yu Fung Commercial Centre
289 Hennessy Rd
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2511-1011
Fax: 852-2519-9411
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

Rainbow Umbrella (HK) Ltd
Flat A, 10/F, World Tech Centre
How Ming St
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2304-1310
Fax: 852-2344-4245
Web: www.rainbowumbrella.com.hk

Sinobest Umbrella Co Ltd
Rms 3504-05
Hong Kong Plaza
188 Connaught West
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2517-8938
Fax: 852-2517-0752
Web: www.sinobest.com.hk

Vanguard Shoe Co Ltd
Rm 11, 15/F
New Commercial Centre
19 On Sum St
Sha Tin, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2645-0129
Fax: 852-2144-5806
Web: www.vgdboot.com