1 Dec 2003
Development by design(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 04,2003)
Development by design
Lautan Watch Co
The US, South America, North Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East are major export markets for Lautan Watch Co
A constant stream of new designs and full customer service drive the continuing development of Lautan Watch Co, which began operations with a manufacturing base on the Chinese mainland in 1978.
The original plant was sold some 2-3 years ago as part of Lautan's ongoing strategy to focus on sales and marketing, according to manager Yip Wing Sang.
"Throughout the years, we have been constantly upgrading ourselves in terms of R&D capabilities, marketing and quality, as well as management and administration standards," Yip explains.
Having realised the importance of cost-effectiveness to its customers, Lautan therefore decided to fade out from the manufacturing business to better control its costs.
"We now concentrate on developing and designing new products with our experienced R&D team, which consists of 5-10 designers and engineers in Shanghai," Yip adds.
Lautan's five-strong multilingual staff based in Hong Kong focuses on sales and marketing while manufacturing is outsourced to business partners in Shanghai and Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces on the Chinese mainland.
"All these production plants are equipped with advanced production machinery to cope with customers' ever-changing needs and special requirements," Yip says.
The range of products that Lautan offers includes clock movements, plastic LCD and quartz analogue watches, compasses for watches, stainless steel watchbands, leather watchstraps, a complete range of watch parts, batteries, plastic badges and plastic boxes for packaging.
The price of clock movements is around US$0.20 FOB Hong Kong apiece, while leather watchstraps and stainless steel watchbands are priced from US$0.30-0.60. Delivery takes two weeks for in-stock items and around 45 days for OEM orders that require tooling.
"Our major export markets include the US, South America, North Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, but we have also begun to do a lot of business in Western Africa and Europe," Yip confides.
Customer satisfaction and product quality are always paramount, and Yip claims Lautan never sacrifices quality in order to maintain its annual US$3m turnover. "Attractive design is also a means to draw the attention of customers," he adds.
Lautan sources raw materials from various reliable suppliers, such as ABS from the mainland, stainless steel from Japan and Taiwan, zinc alloy from Australia and ICs from Japan.
"At present, around 30-40% of our total orders on hand are OEM-based, while the rest are our own designs," notes Yip, adding that developing customer designs helps set it apart from its rivals.
He predicts that the business environment should be "rather promising" by the end of this year. "We can expect more business from the Korean and European markets because their economies have been picking up at a fast pace," Yip adds. "The euro has also gained about around 40% this year, making products from Hong Kong cheaper and more competitive in price."
WRITTEN BY MARGARET CHAN
Lautan Watch Co
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