7 March 2005
Setting Standards(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2005)
Standard Industrial Co
The formula has served the 14-year-old company well in recent years, including a radical transformation following a founding partner's decision to leave in 1998.
Standard refocused its operations, chose an English name for the first time and adopted a more international outlook that has paid handsome dividends.
Today, Standard is a successful Hong Kong-based company with some 300 employees in two factories on the Chinese mainland and an international customer base from which it receives significant volumes of regular repeat business.
"We have a lot of regular customers, although the frequency of orders varies," Wu admits. "For some customers it's once per year, for others twice a year and for others once a month."
Standard specialises in low-cost timepieces, particularly plastic watches with alloy cases, using quartz movements that it sources from Japan, Singapore and the mainland.
She explains that Standard's business is worldwide - principally Europe, the US and Asia.
"We also do business in South America and Australia - in fact, wherever there is a demand for reasonably-priced watches we are happy to supply them," says Wu, adding that its US business is "a little down" at the moment.
Among the different types of timepieces Standard manufactures are leather band, alloy, plastic, children's, key chain, hook-and-loop strap and PU sports watches.
"We want to be just like a supermarket where you can come in and choose anything you want," Wu says. "We make thousands of different models, and we're introducing new ones all the time."
Standard's watches are available worldwide under a plethora of customer brand names, but the company is now taking its first steps towards establishing its own branded identity. "We have registered our Silex brand name on the Chinese mainland," explains Wu, noting that the company also plans to build the brand on the mainland.
"At this point it's an umbrella brand, covering a range of different models and styles, but conforming to our general policy of offering good quality at an affordable price."
Most of Standard's business is OEM. "We have two designers based on the mainland, but generally speaking we work to customers' designs for customer brands," Wu advises. "Quite a lot of our watches go to big chain stores like Wal-Mart and Target, and we also do gift and premium business."
The company's ever-growing collection of designs, which already numbers in the thousands, has to take account of both fashion trends and the differing requirements of international markets.
"These past two years there has been a trend for colourful straps and big watches that we have been following," Wu notes, adding that size preferences vary from market to market. "For example, in Europe consumers like big watches, while in Asia the trend is towards something smaller."
FOB Hong Kong prices start from US$1 and go up to about US$3 per watch, says Wu, explaining that Standard produces about 200,000 watches per month. "We will accept orders from as little as 200 watches per model, but we have handled orders of up to 50,000 watches for one model."
Delivery usually takes about 30 days after order confirmation, but can stretch to 40 days if there are sourcing complications. "We have to buy parts from other factories for some watches," Wu explains, "though most items we can handle ourselves."
Bulk manufacturing of economical timepieces is a highly competitive business, and Standard is accordingly aggressive in marketing its products.
The company maintains its own website and uses a variety of other media to publicise its products. "We promote our services by participation in trade shows in Hong Kong, the mainland and overseas, and through print advertising," Wu remarks.
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
Standard Industrial Co