6 Feb 2006
Young At Heart(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2006)
High quality, well-designed children's shoes are the primary focus of WSBE Ltd
"We choose to concentrate on the children's footwear market rather than diversify into other areas in order to provide superior-quality products and service," claims marketing manager Lenny Lam.
The 25-year-old company specialises in manufacturing soft and hard-soled shoes for infants and children as well as ballet and dolls' shoes, using canvas fabric, PU, leather and PVC sourced from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.
"Both historically and logistically, we are well-placed to help our clients develop new styles," she says. "We provide a wide range of infants and children's shoes, which are either designed by our clients or at our own development unit."
These often feature the PU uppers and rubber outsoles that tend to be the most popular materials for school shoes and are available in many colours and prints, which also makes them attractive to children. "There is also a price advantage compared with other materials," Lam adds.
She says the company's biggest achievement is continually meeting the exacting requirements of its discerning clients, largely by investing heavily in computerised cutting and stitching equipment.
Lam says WSBE's reputation for quality has helped the company successfully form close working relationships with leading retail chains that are renowned for their children's footwear.
As a result, WSBE's client list includes companies the calibre of Wal-Mart, Sears, Mothercare, Tesco, Target, Woolworths, Adams, BHS and Disney in major markets such as the UK, the US and Europe.
The company meets their demands by producing in excess of 350,000 pairs of shoes per month in minimum order quantities of 2,000 pairs per style, delivered 40-45 days after order confirmation. "We can handle repeat orders slightly quicker," she claims.
FOB Hong Kong prices vary between US$1.45-4.00 per pair, depending on materials. "Our clients understand that we use good materials - however unit cost is always an issue," notes Lam.
Production takes place at a 10,000-square-metre, 600-worker factory in Guangdong Province on the mainland, which is audited by WSBE's major clients several times every year in response to social demands to protect human rights in the workplace.
She says ethical sourcing is becoming a common practice for major international footwear companies. "We feel proud that it is not only the quality of our products that attracts clients but also the care we show towards our employees and the conditions under which our products are produced," says Lam.
She believes another major focus that allows WSBE to differentiate itself from competitors is its development and sample department, which produces 200-300 new designs each month, with concept to production usually taking 2-3 weeks. "We are very good at producing samples and quickly transferring new concepts into production," claims Lam.
She adds that the company has developed strategies that ensure close contact with clients during every stage of concept development, design, production and delivery.
For example, WSBE began producing children's dancing and ballet shoes two years ago. "We offer a limited range of classically-designed ballet shoes that are growing in popularity," Lam claims, noting that currently sales of ballet shoes amount to "about 10,000 pairs" per year.
She says WSBE will focus on stepping up its design output and investing in more computerised equipment to provide more products and services. "We see the way forward closely linked with developing even closer relationships with our clients and helping them achieve their goals," Lam concludes.
WRITTEN BY CHRIS DAVIS