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Clear Indications For Asia's Eyewear Industry(HKTDC Optical,2002)


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Clear Indications For Asia's Eyewear Industry

Clear Indications For Asia's Eyewear Industry

Hong Kong Optical Fair
7-9 November 2001

2001 (Expected)
Total Exhibitors
Total Visitors
Product Mix Spectacles, Sunglasses, Goggles, Contact Lenses, Frames & Mountings, Parts & Accessories, Related Chemicals & Materials, Manufacturing Equipment & Technology, Optometry Instruments, Spectacle Cases & Holders, Related Packaging Materials, Related Services & Publications
Group Pavilions Chinese mainland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan
Scale 14,000 square metres
Venue Halls 1 and 2, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre 1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Organizer Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Admission Trade visitors only. Visitors under 18 will not be admitted.
Enquiries Exhibitions Department
Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Unit 13, Expo Galleria
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2240-4388; Fax: (852) 2824-0249
E-mail: exhibitions@tdc.org.hk

Time Saver

Register in advance on the Internet to avoid queues at the fair.

Simply visit the Web site http://hkopticalfair.com and register online.


Show Times

Fair Dates & Opening Hours  
November 7 (Wed) 10am-6pm
November 8 (Thu) 9.30am-6pm
November 9 (Fri) 9.30am-5pm
Buyer Registration Counter  
November 7 (Wed) 9.30am-5.30pm
November 8 (Thu) 9am-5.30pm
November 9 (Fri) 9am-4.30pm
Visitor Enquiries: (852) 2240-4388  


A Clear Vision For The Optical Industry

This year's Hong Kong Optical Fair is expected to open its doors to 360 exhibitors and 6,600 buyers from around the world.

NOW in its ninth year, the Hong Kong Optical Fair is well established as the premier event for optical goods in Asia. The high international profile of the fair ensures buyers from all over the world will be exposed to the latest fashion trends and most technically advanced products.

The Hong Kong Optical Fair 2001 takes place from 7 to 9 November 2001 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The show has grown steadily over the years, and a total of 360 exhibitors are expected this year, of which 60% will be from overseas. This represents an increase over the 2000 fair, which in turn attracted a 9% growth in exhibitors over 1999. Last year's fair was attended by 6,534 buyers from 81 countries and regions, up 5% from 1999. The top 10 sources of buyers were the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, the US, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Thailand and Malaysia. Organizers expect 6,600 buyers to attend this year.

It is not only the number of people that is expected to grow. "There will be a 10% increase in the net exhibition area, with space in Halls 1 and 2 expanded to meet requests from exhibitors," explains C.S. Lee, director of Exhibitions & Publications at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), the event's organizer.

Nine group pavilions have been confirmed, namely the Chinese mainland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Singapore and Taiwan, reinforcing Hong Kong's position as the largest centre for the industry in Asia. In addition, strong presence is expected from Malaysia, the UK and the US. Exhibitors from Australia and New Zealand will also be present for the first time.

Buying missions from emerging markets such as Russia and major markets such as the Chinese mainland, Japan, Taiwan and Korea will visit the fair.

With the Chinese mainland's imminent accession to the World Trade Organization, the eyes of many at the show will be on its exhibitors and buyers, underlining Hong Kong's position as the ideal gateway to the mainland.

"Besides providing a wide array of products under one roof, concurrent events, including conferences and seminars, will provide insight into industry and product trends," says Lee. The focus on the future makes the fair essential for those wishing to gather important intelligence on the industry.

"Business contacts can be made and renewed during the gala evening's cocktail reception and dinner," says Lee. "In addition, VIP buyers, as well as Cathay Pacific first and business class passengers, enjoy access to the Dragon Lounge in the fair area. It provides computers with Internet access, international newspapers and trade publications, and complimentary refreshments."

Buyers and visitors to the Hong Kong Optical Fair can bring themselves up to date with recent developments in the industry, as well as discuss business with individual representatives of companies exhibiting their products.
The third Eyewear Design Competition's winning pieces will be displayed at the fair. The competition is divided into three groups of participants: corporate, individual and student. The first two groups have been asked to design eyewear based on the theme "Back To Basic", while the students will work under the theme "Retro Rave". Judges will take originality and creativity, aesthetics, and practicability and functionality into account when assessing entries.

"The objective of the competition is to enhance the design quality of the Hong Kong optical industry and to encourage new innovations and styles in product design," says Lee. "We also hope it will raise international awareness of local optical products among those visiting the fair."

Major exhibits at the Hong Kong Optical Fair 2001 include spectacles, sunglasses, goggles, contact lenses, lenses, frames and mountings, parts and accessories, related chemicals and materials, manufacturing equipment and technology, optometry instruments, spectacle cases and holders, related packaging materials and related services and publications. The breakdown of products is expected to be similar to the 2000 fair, with frames comprising 43% of exhibits, followed by sunglasses at 16%, and children's frames and lenses at 9.6% each.

The Hong Kong Optical Fair is organized by the TDC and co-organized by the Hong Kong Optical Manufacturers Association. Sponsors include 20/20 Asia magazine, China Optometric & Optical Association, Fukui Optical Association, Korean Optometric Association, Malaysian Optical Wholesalers Association, Singapore Optical Trade Association, Taipei Optical Association, Thai Optometric Association and the Hong Kong Optometric Association.

Hong Kong is the largest exporter of optical frames in Asia and second in the world after Italy. Exports of optical instruments, apparatus and optical goods in 2000 reached US$3.1bn, up 35% from 1999. The largest markets for SAR goods are the US, Germany, Japan and Italy.

The SAR has long been known for its OEM business, but is now also becoming a strong ODM supplier. An increasing number of manufacturers are exporting products under their own brand names or producing their own designs. Licensing agreements are also on the rise, with manufacturers producing items for world-famous brands. There will be ample opportunity for fair visitors to see the production and design capabilities of Hong Kong companies.

A strong network of ancillary industries supports the Hong Kong optical goods industry. This includes companies producing cellulose acetate sheets and spectacles parts. Most of the SAR companies now base their production on the Chinese mainland, taking advantage of lower labour and land costs.



All Eyes On Increased Business

The Hong Kong Optical Fair need not be all work. There is also time for relaxation, and this includes a fashion show and a gala dinner at which participants can relax a little, get to know others on a social level and renew old acquaintances.

"EVERY year it gets better and this year should be even bigger than last year." That's the opinion of the forthcoming Hong Kong Optical Fair, organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), from the man some have called the "optical father of Hong Kong". Not only did Harvey Fung establish V.I.P. Optical Int'l Ltd more than 30 years ago, but he was also a co-founder of the Hong Kong Optical Manufacturers Assocation (HKOMA) and is a past president.

"I have just returned from an overseas trip during which I talked to many foreign buyers who have expressed their intention to attend this year's fair," says Fung. "For them, Hong Kong is at the crossroads of Asia and the door to the Chinese mainland."

He adds that the Chinese mainland is becoming an increasingly significant market and that demand for optical frames is increasing. "The [imminent] accession of China to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will only increase this demand," he says. The event is also an important shop window for mainland manufacturers eager to let the rest of the world know about their very competitive products.

"All the big buyers already come to the Hong Kong Optical Fair, so the newcomers we will see will mainly be small and medium-sized companies, particularly from newer markets such as South America - they are looking for less expensive products," says Fung about his expectations for the event.

The South American connection should be strong this year, following a trip undertaken by Harvey Fung and other HKOMA representatives and TDC personnel to Optics 2000 in Brazil last year, where they spread the word about the quality and variety on offer from local manufacturers.

"Our design team has been busy [during the summer] preparing samples for this year's event," says Fung. "Companies used to bring out new products twice a year, but now the pressure for more choice from consumers means new collections every three months."

Exhibitors and visitors come from every corner of the globe, and this makes every Hong Kong Optical Fair a truly international affair.

Mandarin Optical Mfy is another pioneer of the Hong Kong optical industry. It was founded in 1966 and has remained a family-run business. "Our growth has been slow but steady," says Tony Chow, director of Mandarin Optical and vice president of the HKOMA. "We don't want to get too big - we must keep our quality."

The fair is an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase new styles and new materials, but for well-established companies such as Mandarin Optical the major reason for attending is to keep in close contact with "old friends", according to Chow. "We may meet old customers with whom we haven't been working for a long time and as a result we can renew our relationship."

Chow adds: "We anticipate good business at this year's fair because our strength is handmade plastic frames, which we have been doing for a long time - and that is the trend at the moment."

Relative newcomers to the SAR's optical industry are also upbeat about prospects for this year and appreciate the showcase that Hong Kong Optical Fair offers. Auto-Winner Ltd, for example, is a privately owned company established 10 years ago. As well as undertaking OEM/ODM business for overseas fashion brands, Auto-Winner has also been successful in marketing its own MANIAC brand of frames, aimed at the young end of the market. "The fair gives the company a good opportunity to reach new customers, especially for MANIAC," says Auto-Winner designer Chris Lee.

"Hong Kong Optical Fair is one of the three major global fairs we attend every year," says Lee. "It attracts so many buyers from around the world that we are confident that we can make new business there."

But he admits there is another reason for attending: not only can his company make contact with quality buyers, but designers and manufacturers can also avail themselves of the chance to learn more about the latest trends in the industry.


Trending Upwards

Every year, there is an Eyewear Design Competition and a prize for the best pavilion. The Booth Design Competition 2000 prize went to Mazen Industries Ltd.

HONG Kong is the largest exporter of optical frames in Asia, and second only to Italy worldwide. In 2000, Hong Kong's total exports of spectacles, lenses and frames reached US$863m, up 7% on 1999.

Hong Kong-based manufacturers strive to maintain their solid footing at the forefront of trends in both technology and design, while also taking advantage of local conditions.

The optical industry in Hong Kong really accelerated more than a decade ago when companies moved their labour-intensive factories to the Chinese mainland to take advantage of more modest costs.

Once known mainly for low-cost acetate-plastic frames, Hong Kong optical producers have expanded from this base to create value-added handmade cellulose acetate frames, injection-moulded frames and metal/plastic combination frames. The production of metal models has received a big boost with the development of lightweight titanium frames.

Although most Hong Kong manufacturers concentrate on OEM and ODM work, there has been significant growth in quality own-brand items. This trend has gone hand-in-hand with expansion into the distribution of brand-name products and retailing chains, particularly on the Chinese mainland, where the demand for optical products is booming.

One of those who has witnessed these changes first-hand - as well as being a driving force behind many of the developments - is Harvey Fung. Fung, who is a co-founder and past president of the Hong Kong Optical Manufacturers Association (HKOMA).

"The global optical market is booming, but although demand is strong, supply is even stronger," says Fung. "This means that competition among manufacturers is very stiff and profits currently low."

Current developments in the industry are more concerned with design and marketing than with technology, Fung adds. "The technology and machinery - for example, the use of titanium and other lightweight materials, memory wire, laser processing and micro-casting techniques - has remained the same for the past couple of years," says Fung. "The challenge facing manufacturers today is to produce innovative designs and to strengthen their marketing efforts."

Fung notes that management style is becoming increasingly important. "Since competition is tough, successful manufacturers need to concentrate on good management in order to produce innovative high-quality products at reasonable prices. They need to develop effective marketing strategies in order to catch the market."

As far as the categories of frames are concerned, the production of sunglasses, men's frames and unisex frames are on the increase. As Tony Chow, director of Mandarin Optical Mfy and vice president of the HKOMA, notes, the designs of men's products are now following fashion trends more closely.

Concurrent seminars and conferences are an integral part of the Hong Kong Optical Fair. Participants can share ideas and gain knowledge about the latest trends and developments in their particular areas of interest.
Chris Lee, the designer at Auto-Winner Ltd, which produces three million frames per year, agrees. According to Lee, the men's market can be split into two distinct groups, and one of these is really driving this trend. "There are two distinct markets: teenagers and yuppies on the one hand and the more mature market on the other. The first group likes to choose a range of fashion glasses, while the mature consumers prefer to pick one pair of sunglasses and one pair to help their vision."

Lee adds that designers are also coming up with more unisex designs in response to customers' demands. "Sunglasses are a fashion item and the teenage market is especially strong. But in the more mature market, people who wear prescription lenses are buying clip-on sunglasses." Sunglasses sales have benefited from an increasing public awareness of the dangers to the eyes of ultraviolet radiation.

Titanium may have been the big success story of recent years because of its lightweight properties, something that is particularly appropriate for prescription frames. However, this does not mean that plastic has been pushed into the background.

"There is a fashion now for handmade plastic frames, especially for sunglasses," explains Chow, whose company specialises in this technology. "Because the frames are handmade, they can be made into more unusual and interesting designs, and this includes different colours." Chow also notes that combination frames incorporating both metal and plastic are also gaining in popularity.

As far as actual frame design is concerned, Chow sees a trend towards smaller and narrower shapes with squared-off corners rather than the ovals that had been very popular in recent years. But Chow adds that these preferences tend to be cyclical in nature, so bigger frames are just around the corner. The traditional colours of black, brown, gold and silver remain strong, but red and pastel colours are the fashion shades, says Lee.

Auto-Winner is an excellent example of a company that has successfully developed its own brand. Although it continues to produce frames for overseas customers, its own MANIAC label is already available in the UK, Spanish and French markets in particular.

Hong Kong companies are also increasingly co-operating with overseas partners, particularly manufacturers, says Fung, whose firm enjoys strategic relationships with Italian companies. Many manufacturers have entered into licensing agreements to design, manufacture and market frames for fashion brands or cartoon figures. One example of this is the company Arts Optical, which has entered into such arrangements with Theme and Garfield.


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