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Tip Top Trading(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2008)

Sports, Casual & Fashion Shoes

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Essentially a trading company, Nisun Int'l (Group) Co Ltd also has its own Nisunor brand

Versatility and a commitment to meeting virtually all customer requests has built Nisun Int'l (Group) Co Ltd a global business that is the envy of many of its peers.

"We have comprehensive lines of footwear," states Manager Albert Ng, noting that the company supplies traders with light sports shoes, performance sports shoes, heavy-duty boots, waterproof footwear, casual shoes, fashion shoes and boots, family shoes and in-house shoes for both genders. "We also manufacture light sports and casual shoes and have our own Nisunor brand."

The group was established in Hong Kong in 1997 under the Nisun Int'l Co name, but founder Michael Lim already had experience in the footwear industry in China from another family company active since the early 1980s.

Today, in addition to its factory in Jinjiang City, Fujian Province, the company operates offices in Wenzhou, Guangdong Province and Hong Kong through which customers have access to factories across the Chinese mainland.

"We essentially function as a trading company providing all kinds of shoes, so we need arrangements with different factories in different locations," Mr Ng explains.

He adds that different provinces have their own specialities - for example, Fujian has expertise in sporting shoes. "We place our orders where we can get the best prices," Mr Ng reassures, adding that Nisun's own factory also does work for other companies.

Initially focusing on the low-to-medium quality and price range, the company has more recently moved towards medium- to high-end production, and has also worked to develop the Nisunor brand and its position in more quality-conscious markets.

"Our main business previously was in South America and South Africa," Mr Ng revealed. "They accounted for about 70% of our business but they are price-sensitive markets, and with the appreciation of the renminbi it is really difficult for us to do that business."

This year, therefore, Nisun will be building market share in the US. "Until now we have had very little exposure in the US, but we are targeting that market and very soon we will have a presence," Mr Ng affirms.

The company still exports to South Africa and Chile, also does business with Japan and the Benelux countries and made a crucial strategic move into Europe in 2005 with a four-year agency agreement with the international sporting goods brand, Head.

This agreement, Mr Ng says, has given the company valuable design input, boosted team confidence and opened markets in the European Union. "Europe is a major market for us in terms of sports shoes, and Head is a big name at the Nike and Adidas market level," he reasons.

Sports shoes are Nisun's main business, accounting for about half of overall production, and the company's own factory is dedicated to this type of shoe.

"We have our own development team of 30 staff, who monitor trends and develop shoes to meet them," Mr Ng explains.

"However, many of our major customers have their own development programmes and don't need our samples, so they simply give us their drawings."

The Jinjiang factory has been operational for two years and handles a little less than 20% of Nisun's total production. "We source most of our raw materials in China," Mr Ng adds. "We had to import a lot of materials from Italy, Brazil or Taiwan when we started, but now they are easily available within China."

The company mostly uses leather uppers in its Head business. "For other sports shoes it is mostly PU and mesh," Mr Ng says, adding that running shoes are one of Nisun's major lines.

Building the Nisunor brand is a high priority for the company, but its core business remains manufacturing for customer brands such as Head. "We focus on design and development and sourcing," Mr Ng explains.

"Our strengths are our ability to offer a wide variety of footwear at competitive prices, contemporary design, assured quality, prompt delivery and large production capacity.

"We accept orders for both mass and small quantities," Mr Ng adds, explaining that FOB prices range from US$1.30-3.00 for a pair of house slippers to US$25-30 for waterproof leather boots.

This year looks set to be a landmark for this tip-top trader, with big plans for expansion in Europe and North America and its own brand assuming more and more importance in its product mix.

TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE

Fast Facts

Nisun Int'l (Group) Co Ltd
Rm 304
Winful Centre
30 Shing Yip St
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2302-4266
Fax: 852-2302-4766
Email:
sales@nisun.com.hk
Web: www.nisun.com.hk
Year Established: 1997
Major Product Categories: sports shoes, casual shoes, sandals, slippers
Brands & Certificates: Head, Jet Alquima
Minimum Order: 2,000 pairs per style, max 3 colours
Monthly Production Capacity: 200,000 pairs
Delivery Time: 30-45 days
Factory Size & Location: 3,000 square metres; Jinjiang, Wenzhou, Huidong
Workforce: 450