11 Aug 2004
Sports Shoes(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 02,2004)
Vol 2, 2004
Ladies' Fashion Shoes
Best Foot Forward
Hugo Enterprise Ltd makes sports, casual, soccer and jogging shoes for export to the US, Canada, Central America and Europe
The Olympic Games in Athens have certainly come a long way since the ancient Greeks organised the first event - not least in terms of footwear.
When the Olympics were first held in 776BC runners went barefoot, but nowadays athletes' shoes - and their look - seem to be almost as important as their training regimes.
Patrick Ng, manager of Shui Cheong Hong Enterprise Ltd, says his company keeps both comfort and fashion in mind when designing sports shoes - "although a shoe designed purely for sport generally looks more functional".
Stylewise, he says demand is seasonal. "In winter, black, brown and camel colours are popular, but in summer customers want spice colours, like red and yellow," Ng observes.
The 29-year-old company, which has a factory in Fujian Province on the Chinese mainland, produces a wide range of sports and casual shoes, exporting more than 6.5 million pairs each year.
Its 250 workers manufacture on an OEM basis, but also produce shoes under Shui Cheong's own Kop and Kooper brand names. Minimum order size is generally 1,800 pairs of shoes and delivery is 30-45 days after order confirmation - although these can vary according to the styles and quantities being ordered. Prices for sports shoes start at US$4 FOB Hong Kong.
Shui Cheong's main market is the US, but "we would like to move into new markets like India - where we see a lot of potential - Germany and France," Ng admits.
Hugo Enterprise Ltd identifies its major markets as the US, Canada, Central America and Europe, and usually exports about 50,000 pairs of shoes every month.
"But we are able to increase that quantity dramatically if necessary," claims marketing manager Lewis Lee. "We could produce up to 500,000 pairs a month by cooperating with other manufacturers and using their factories."
Hugo's minimum order size is 1,200 pairs per style. "But orders are usually larger, since the cost comes down when the quantity goes up," adds Lee. Delivery time is approximately 37 days after order confirmation.
"Prices depend on the materials used," says Lee. "We mostly get our raw materials from the mainland, where costs are lower, but some customers request more expensive, imported materials, which we source from Korea and Taiwan."
FOB Xiamen prices range from US$1 for PVC or children's styles to US$4 for leather and mesh shoes and US$5 for sports shoes made from leather and nylon.
D & T Industrial Ltd also works on an OEM basis, but produces under its own Avocado and Kinetix brand names, too. "Turkey is our main market," reveals managing director David Tong. "Customers there are quite fashion-conscious and, for that market, we change our styles every 3-4 months."
D & T's prices depend on the quality of raw materials - "mostly from the mainland, but sometimes from more expensive suppliers in Taiwan and Korea," says Tong.
The company's prices are also dictated by the quantity being shipped, but start at US$3 FOB Xiamen for children's shoes and range between US$4-8 FOB Xiamen for adults' styles.
Tong says designs are mostly dictated by customers: "Sometimes we'll design a shoe, but we also have samples buyers can adapt - they prefer it that way."
By contrast, the in-house design team at Hua Tai Industries (Far East) Co Ltd prefers to suggest ideas to customers. "We look at what's around in the market, taking new trends and adapting them for our customers," explains marketing manager Jacky Ng.
Currently popular are multicoloured sports shoes, as well as styles in navy and grey, he says. "Our main focus is on functional sports shoes, but we keep a close eye on fashion trends."
Hua Tai produces 300,000 pairs of shoes each month, including OEM work. Raw materials include leather, rubber, PVA, PU and TPR, mainly sourced from the mainland and Taiwan.
Minimum order size is 2,000 pairs of sports shoes, with delivery 30 working days after order confirmation. Prices depend on the styles and quantities ordered. "Our major markets are South Africa, Australia and Europe, but we are always looking for new opportunities," adds Ng.
And consumers, it seems, are always looking for a new pair of sports shoes. The market has exploded over the last 20 years and demand continues to grow - especially from those of us whose only interest in sport is watching it on television.
WRITTEN BY SUZANNE MOORE
Hua Tai Industries (Far East) Co Ltd
Flat C, 15/F
China Harbour Bldg
370-374 King's Rd
Shui Cheong Hong Enterprise Ltd
15/F, Blks G-H
Wing Hong Ind Bldg
18-26 Kwai Fung Crescent
Kwai Chung, New Territories
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