1 Feb 2003
Ever Successful Diversification(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2003)
Vol 1, 2003
Ever Successful Diversification
Building An International Brand
Ever Success Footwear Ltd
|Ever Success Footwear Ltd has developed strong customer bases in Europe, Japan and South America|
A firm belief that flexibility and customer service are the secrets to sales success has turned OEM manufacturer Ever Success Footwear Ltd into a flourishing business in difficult times, according to founder and managing director Frank Chan. "I started in garment manufacturing in 1993 and was asked in 1996 if I would be interested in making footwear products," says Chan.
Ever Success lost no time in establishing a factory in Putian, Fujian Province, on the Chinese mainland which now employs about 300 people. It began by making simple EVA beach sandals, but has since diversified into athletic shoes and sneakers and has agreements with other factories to represent their products to its international customers.
The company manufactures and assembles everything at its Putian plant except the raw materials, because as Chan says "there are very good and reasonably priced suppliers in the area" who make quality EVA.
"It's a petrochemical compound, soft but durable, and you can make any shape you like with it from high heels to flat sneakers. It's cheap and it's versatile, so now we're using it to make some promotional gifts and toys for our customers," he adds.
Ever Success has developed strong customer bases in Europe, Japan and South America, where its high quality, disposable sandals are very much a feature of beach life. Well-known brands, such as Spain's Mistral, come to Ever Success for their beach shoes.
"We started to build our business in Europe, but we are now very focused on developing the US market," Chan explains. "That's a very competitive area, not only in terms of price. Your product must be very good and your delivery very fast. However, if you can meet those standards, you can win very big orders. We are dealing with some department stores and trying to sell them some of our products. Maybe this year will be our year," adds Chan enthusiastically.
He firmly believes that, in the long term, successful businesses must diversify their customer bases as well as their product lines to weather a challenging business environment where margins are constantly being squeezed.
"Business changes sometimes," explains Chan. "We have customers in Japan but quantities and prices are quite low. Before, they could offer perhaps 30% or 40% more than Europeans, but now they are asking for the same prices."
Ever Success's largest order was for around 300,000 pairs of sandals of a single design for a European customer who commissioned a logo for promotional purposes. However, Chan notes that footwear factories are taking orders from the US for as many as one million pairs, which is another reason for the company's focus on that market in 2003.
"As well as developing the American and European markets, we want to make our own designs," he says. "We want to expand into casual shoes and do something different from EVA with a higher value."
This initiative will also see Ever Success build its own brand based on original designs that it will market on the mainland, where Chan has already registered EVA as a brand name.
"It's a big market of course," says Chan. "Competition is keen and it takes time to build up an image and reputation. We're working on that now and may soon be able to establish a shop."
Internationally, Ever Success continues to market its OEM lines, increasingly via the Internet through the www.hkfootwear.com.hk website, to which it adds new products approximately every two months.
"These are difficult times but the footwear business at the moment is very good. I think it has a very good future," Chan says.
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
Ever Success Footwear Ltd
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