1 Dec 2002
A Timely Touch(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 04,2002)
A Timely Touch
Boxes To Watch
Market savvy helps Planway Ltd to create an array of watches: everything from classic men's models to ladies' dress watches and sporty styles.
RELYING on two decades of industry experience, Raymond Cheng founded Planway Ltd in 1995. As managing director, he has seen the company grow steadily to produce 1.5 million quartz and analog watches per year for medium and medium-high market segments.
Planway gained IS0 9001 certification in 1997. In 2002, the company opened a new factory on the Chinese mainland. Cheng attributes Planway's success to understanding customers' needs and staying focused on creating quality products that are stylish and reliable.
"We know the watch industry inside-out and make a wide variety of OEM watches, everything from classic men's wristwatches to ladies' dress watches and sporty styles," says Cheng.
An in-house design team develops new styles and works with customers on any adaptations. "Unique products for each customer are a must. We can understand any customer's brand and create watches to project the brand image," Cheng says.
"From a few graphics or product samples, we can translate brands into watches. This is important in today's market when more non-traditional retailers want to add watches to their product ranges."
Ladies' watches account for 70% of the company's sales. "For the past few seasons dress watches set with stones were popular. However, we are also making more man-sized and sports watches for ladies," says Cheng.
"For sports watches in general, the trend is towards more elegant, simpler designs."
Main markets are the US, South America, the Middle East and Europe. The company is eager for more European sales.
"There is no substitute for visiting markets and getting a feel for trends in different countries. We like doing business face-to-face," says Cheng.
First-hand market experience guides product development. "Based on contact with customers, trips abroad, trade fairs and market knowledge, the marketing department gives extensive feedback to our designers," he adds.
Clothing and jewellery trends also influence the designers. "It can be a whole look or something as simple as a colour trend," says Cheng.
Production and packaging occur at Planway's new factory on the Chinese mainland. The facility has state-of-the-art equipment like water-resistance and time-accuracy testing machines from Switzerland. The factory and equipment ensure that production capacity can increase 30-50% when necessary.
Movements come from Japan and Switzerland while other components are sourced on the Chinese mainland. Planway works closely with vendors to shorten lead times. Shipment is after 45-60 days.
"Flexibility to customers' needs is important in this competitive market," Cheng adds.
"While packaging individual watches to customers' requirements, we also ship watches ready for customers to forward. By reducing the workload at the customer's end, we help reduce costs.
"We will keep moving forward because, like time itself, we cannot stand still," he concludes.
Flat D, 16/F,
Gee Chang Hong Centre,
65 Wong Chuk Hang Rd,
Aberdeen, Hong Kong
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