31 July 2007
Out And About(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 08,2007)
|Hoi Lee Enterprise (China) Ltd manufactures a wide range of sporting and related leisure goods and even handy transport in the form of trolleys and rollers|
The lure of the great outdoors is reason enough for Hoi Lee Enterprise (China) Ltd to manufacture a fine range of sporting and related leisure goods, including beach chairs, beach mats, camping chairs, hammocks, cooler bags, sports bags, backpacks, picnic sets, umbrellas and even handy transport in the form of trolleys and rollers.
"We use a lot of steel tubing, which is the customer-preferred metal, and aluminium tubing; while the most common fabric is polyester, followed by cotton-canvas," says marketing manager Jacky Wong of the 1980-established firm. "We can even supply a range of trolleys pre-fitted with accessories and ready for a trip to the seaside or up country."
The camping chairs, however, form the best-selling single line, and account for more than half of all sales. "Our director-style chairs are very easy to open and close, thanks to their good design, the quality of the materials we use and the workmanship. The chairs can be adjusted for sitting up or lying down flat," Wong says.
"On the other hand, there is increasing demand for multipurpose items," he adds. "For example, walking sticks with folding seats, and chair-plus-cooler bag combinations in backpack form for easy carriage. Our beach-lounger is a popular summertime seller, too, as are our outdoor bistro tables."
However, it took Hoi Lee almost a decade from commencement to reach a comfort zone in its present lines. "We started out making light electronic items, mostly toys like small pianos, Tamagotchi, calculators, and other low-end electronic items," says Wong.
"With high development costs and increased competition, my father elected to try his hand at sporting goods, in part because the cost of the moulds and general development were much lower," he adds. "Also, many of the plastic parts could be used for a range of items and did not need special moulds."
He reveals that the shift in emphasis was also fuelled by fortunate proximity of Hoi Lee's factory to other firms in the sporting and outdoor goods sector.
"One firm in particular was running up big orders and we were a sub-contracted supplier to them. With that experience, it was quite easy to make the transition away from the electronics sector."
As for the future, Wong says that the company will follow trends. "We will try to adapt our present lines and see how we can incorporate different items into popular, labour-saving and easy-to-use-and-carry goods for camping and leisure," he says.
"We will also continue to sell quality goods at the high-end of demand," he adds. "We use quality, even deluxe materials, as the market is saturated at the low-end. Most of the competition is simply on price point, which is why we seek out clients who demand quality and a product that not only claims to be better but is also clearly identifiable as being so."
Production takes place at the firm's 6,000-square-metre, 200-worker factory in Xiamen on the Chinese mainland. "Right now, we have a three-storey building and plan to open two more floors very soon," Wong states.
Equipment comprises sewing and assembly machines. "It is difficult to find and keep good sewers," Wong says, "and we are always advertising for skilled staff. Also, even though we employ only 10-20 metal workers it remains difficult to find the right ones."
The minimum order value is US$5,000. "Our range is fairly wide," Wong says. "While some products cost about US$1 each, others are more than US$10, so usually we sell in bulk, in quantities that might be half a container or one container plus. One TEU, for example, can hold only a few hundred bulky items."
Delivery time is about 30 days or less depending on the colours. "For standard colours and presentations we can do 20 days," says Wong, adding that delivery time is also dependent on the time of year. "July and August are the quiet months and the period before and after Chinese New Year the busiest."
Clearly producing chairs for the outdoors is a healthy repeating market and one well-served by Hoi Lee.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON
Hoi Lee Enterprise (China) Ltd