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Firm Footing(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 02,2007)

Casual Shoes

 

Photo
Hing Hua Industries (FE) Co Ltd ships its extensive range of casual and sports shoes direct to chain-store buyers overseas

Reaching overseas buyers through trading companies may work for most manufacturers, but Hing Hua Industries (FE) Co Ltd has chosen a more challenging way to build its clientele.

"The company was established seven years ago," says marketing manager Jacky So. "Before that, we used to export our sports shoes under our mother company Hua Tai Industries (FE) Co Ltd, which secured orders through various Hong Kong trading firms."

Hua Tai was already manufacturing casual and sports shoes for the Middle Eastern, South African and Latin American markets, and decided to grasp the opportunity by establishing Hing Hua Industries when the market boomed in 1998 and 1999.

"Our new mission is to work directly with overseas customers, and in the best scenario to work directly with big chain-store buyers," So explains.

"Therefore, we have been very aggressive in marketing and promotion by taking part in exhibitions and running heavy advertisement programmes in trade magazines."

Instead of working solely on OEM orders, Hing Hua has also ventured into creating its own designs that reflect such diverse influences as buyer comments, fashion magazines and the Internet.

"We found it essential to create our own collection to let buyers know our capabilities in design as well as manufacturing," So says. "We welcome them to use our original designs or we can adapt our collection to suit their markets."

Hing Hua has already made inroads in the Middle East, South Africa, Latin America, the US and Europe, with retailers making up the bulk of the firm's direct customers.

However, So notes that variations in style are less essential to buyers in South Africa, South America and the Middle East, who usually buy in "very big" volumes.

They are more interested in Hing Hua's price point, which usually falls between US$2.50-3.50 FOB China per pair for a design with PVC uppers and sole.

"Fashion and quality is more crucial for the US and European markets, which also raises the selling price of their prototypes to US$4-5 FOB China per pair as better materials are used and there are more styling details," So notes.

He says Hing Hua is "going from strength to strength", which he attributes to the company's strong financial resources and improving manufacturing capability.

"We have the cash flow to handle big orders - for instance we are able to buy raw materials in big quantities by COD payment terms, so our suppliers offer us very competitive prices which in turn benefits our buyers," So explains.

"We also have our own 20,000-square-metre, 500-worker factory in Fujian Province on the Chinese mainland, which produces 120,000 pairs of sports shoes monthly, as well as a reliable network of sub-contractors."

The company regularly sends its QC team to the subcontracted factories to guarantee that their specifications are followed exactly and the required quality is maintained.

Hing Hua is also keen on retaining skilled and experienced workers in order to uphold its reputation for quality. "We employ footwear graduates from professional institutions as they are better trained and have the knowledge and mindset to work to our high standards," So says.

He adds that the company also keeps investing in new machinery, which enables it to stay in touch with increasingly complicated design trends.

Previously, shoe uppers merely required simple printing and stitching and one single material for the sole, but now there are various kinds of PVC, mesh fabric, embroidery, embossed details and other accessories employed on the uppers.

In addition, EVA, Phlyon, TPR and TPU soles are used in many of Hing Hua's latest products. "We have to use advanced machines to make these new styles as we do not want to be marginalised," So notes.

Looking ahead, he believes Hing Hua's best potential lies in emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia. "We used to ship to Brazil when we worked through Hong Kong trading companies, so we are familiar with the market and confident we can open it again," So concludes.

TEXT BY WINNIE HUI

Hing Hua Industries (FE) Co Ltd

Flat A, 22/F, Henan Electric Development Bldg
389 King's Rd, North Point, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2562-7346
Fax: 852-2562-7254
Email:
huatai@huataihk.com