11 Feb 2004
Networking Success(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2004)
Vol 1, 2004
Success Co Ltd
|To stay abreast of trends in the footwear industry, Form Success Co Ltd invests heavily in R&D and works closely with European designers|
Stylish ladies' footwear is Form Success Co Ltd's main line of business these days, but the firm has definitely not forgotten the enterprising spirit that characterised its early growth.
The company began operations as a family-owned Taiwanese trading firm in 1978, rose to prominence and began manufacturing operations when co-founder Eric Lu assumed the chairman's role.
Form Success came to Hong Kong in 1985, attracted by its proximity to Lu's home market and the prospects of expanding production into the Chinese mainland.
This astute move has seen the company grow to encompass more than US$38m in annual sales, thanks to Lu's main strategies of maximising his networking strengths and expanding in developing markets.
Footwear accounts for 78% of Form Success's revenue, and the company aims to produce increasingly higher-end goods while maintaining its core customers for basic products.
"We are now aiming towards the mid- to higher-end product range with our new footwear lines," says vice sales manager Letitia Chow, noting that the general market trend is towards higher quality shoes.
"We have invested in Spanish and Italian design firms that provide designs for our annual collections," she adds. "This way we can ensure that our shoes follow global fashion trends and are as up to date as possible."
However, the company remains flexible on design, and uses the annual design selections more as a showcase rather than a rigid production framework.
"We are in the OEM business mainly, and owe much of our success to our in-house design team, which numbers about 80 staff in our sample department," says Chow. "They are able to refine our basic designs into whatever our clients need."
Form Success' shoe business is mainly in the ladies' fashion footwear segment, although the company does allocate some production to men's shoes, children's footwear and sports shoes.
For coming seasons, Chow notes that sandals are traditionally a popular item, although she stresses that Form Success always works towards a customer's specifications.
"Style is essential," insists Chow. "Even if the selling price for a shoe in a particular market is low, say in Africa or South America, it is still imperative that we make the product look as good as possible for that price."
Production takes place at the company's 26,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan, its main manufacturing operation based in Guangdong Province.
Form Success has invested more than US$3.8m in the seven-year-old facility, which is the largest of its kind in the province and employs about 1,500 workers working on five production lines.
The plant has an annual capacity of 4.5 million pairs of ladies' shoes, and product quality is closely monitored by a team of 80 quality controllers based at the factory and with subcontracted firms.
"Production and quality management are some of our company's fortes," says Chow. "Our chairman maintains strong ties with Taiwan and is able to bring in some of the best craftsmen and factory supervisors from the island to oversee our operations."
Chow feels that Europe, Africa and South America hold continuing potential, despite the fact that they already account for 90% of revenue.
"South American importers previously bought mainly from US companies, but they are becoming increasingly aware of the competitive price and good quality of Chinese products," she believes.
Ultimately, Chow attributes her company's successes to its culture of customer satisfaction, which sees Form Success executives travel to a number of global exhibitions, including Germany's GDS International Shoe Trade Fair and the Expo Riva Schuh in Garda, Italy, to drum up new business and maintain old contacts.
"The client always comes first," she says. "Service also includes providing solid product advice to customers, and leveraging our strong experience in wide-ranging markets to help them make an informed product choice."
WRITTEN BY EDWARD CHUNG
Form Success Co Ltd
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