14 Oct 2004
Hong Kong Leather Goods & Bags
J & P Industrial Ltd
J & P Industrial Ltd
J & P Industrial Ltd is successfully targeting the younger market with its stylish fashion handbags
Thinking young has been the successful principle behind the marketing strategy of J & P Industrial Ltd, a Hong Kong-based company established in 1992 and now a leading manufacturer of fashion handbags.
"In the beginning we did a lot of cosmetic bags and then added the fashion handbag line about three years ago," explains founder and director Joe Wong, adding, "It's been quite successful."
The company started its own Teenie brand on the Chinese mainland two years ago and is now introducing it to customers all over the world. "The handbags are targeted at a younger market, from about 10 years old upwards, because of the concentration of consumer purchasing power among that age group," Wong says.
Teenie is one of the main areas of focus for a company that originally built its business in the anonymous world of OEM, and the effect of the change of style and emphasis has had radical implications.
"In the past over 80% of our production was mainly for promotion and packaging, but that percentage has changed since last year," Wong reveals. "Now those items are about 40% of our annual sales, which means the ODM market is expanding tremendously."
This type of successful innovation has always driven the company, particularly in the area of fabric development. "We began developing this fabric ourselves four years ago and we are now getting good results," says Wong, displaying a handbag with a brightly coloured, leather-like finish on the outside and a softer felt lining.
He maintains the new fabric is unique; it looks like leather but is PVC with a felt backing that comes in attractive contrasting colours. "It's very fashionable, the fabric is not expensive and the designs are simple with a clean look," he adds.
These PVC/felt bags have been particularly successful in the US, where the company works closely with its major customers to develop products.
Wong is a firm believer in face-to-face contact between manufacturers and clients, and makes a point of participating in as many important trade shows and exhibitions as possible in order to meet customers.
"We work directly for customers mostly, rather than taking orders through trading companies, which I believe streamlines the design process and overall customer service," he stresses.
The company's Hong Kong team handles most R&D work, while the factory in Dongguan on the mainland, which employs about 450 people, is able to produce in excess of half a million bags per month, depending on the complexity of the design.
J & P will take orders from 500 units upwards at FOB Hong Kong prices ranging from US$0.30-7.00. "Sometimes items are developed by our own design team, while other times customers may have their own ideas and we respond to those," Wong explains.
He notes that J & P follows European styles because "that's where the trends are set" and has introduced these styles to the mainland market. "The mainland is not ready for some styles yet, but we have received positive feedback from customers in the US and also from customers we met at trade shows," Wong observes, adding, "It has been quite busy in the US since last year."
Most customers take advantage of the company's design creativity, and orders now generally include an ODM component. "We have some quite successful new lines and collections that were developed for one of our customers in the US," Wong adds. "The full range of bags was designed and developed by our company."
Although the US is the company's biggest single market and the mainland is emerging as increasingly important for the Teenie line, J & P has been careful to spread its business across a broad range of markets.
For example, it also has a strong profile among buyers in the UK, where several of the leading cosmetic companies are regular clients, and it also does "some Asia" business, most notably in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
Given this track record of success, plus its history of innovation in design and material development, Teenie will probably not be J & P's last proprietary brand. "We are now concentrating on Teenie," says Wong with a smile. "Maybe other brand names will follow."
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
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