New Hot Date For Buyers
According to Jeffrey Lam, chairman of the show's organising committee, the new fair was a welcome addition as it filled a gap between traditional buying seasons.
"This is important in today's fast-paced business environment, where buyers and manufacturers need to react quickly to the demands of the marketplace," he added.
"This new event certainly filled a need," Anne Chick, senior manager for exhibitions with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) noted.
"Proof of this is that half of the exhibitors were appearing for the first time at a TDC fair in 2004. This shows how international business continues to surge ahead, and that buyers can be confident of getting value and quality when they place orders through Hong Kong."
Nobody wanted to miss out on this new trading opportunity and 60 trade missions were present. The Chinese mainland fielded the largest mission, with others coming from the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe.
Altogether 476 companies from the mainland showcased their best products, covering almost every category among toys, gifts and houseware. Their products included everything from mass market to high-end - plus everything in-between.
Meanwhile, a special Procurement Centre for Japanese buyers was provided at Hall 2 Concourse for a 15-company buying delegation from Japan.
Seiji Okano, of New Business Development Headquarters, International Trading, Kansai, said: "We supply big retailers in Japan and are always looking for new things to source, so we came to Hong Kong. Hong Kong companies have good factories that can produce what we want, often in small quantities. We can do business with them very easily and quickly."
An interesting visitor was Tony Tang, deputy division chief, licensing, of the marketing department of the Organising Committee for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, who explained: "We know this is where many experienced and reputable companies converge, so we are here to learn about the latest developments as well as to meet companies to explore further cooperation.
"We are interested in outdoor sporting goods and household items and have found some that are good in the choice of materials, design and quality.
"The Beijing Olympics will be bringing a lot of business opportunities to Hong Kong companies, which are well-versed in international trade and are strong in both design and marketing."
Overseas buyers echoed his enthusiasm. "The event is an 'eye-opener' for us, especially about Hong Kong companies as they are so strong in creativity and design," said Raymond Teo, general manager of Parkson Corp Malaysia.
"We have been buying from Hong Kong through our Malaysian agents, but here we can see their entire range and latest collections. We have 30 Parkson stores in Malaysia and will be opening a 215,000-square-metre flagship store in Kuala Lumpur. That is going to be an upmarket store and Hong Kong's great designs will certainly be gracing our shelves."
Equally enthusiastic was Scott Henderson, president of Funworks Toy & Gift Inc, Canada, who noted: "This is a good one-stop shop to source products for the toy and gift industry. Here we find designers, manufacturers and distributors all under one roof.
"We have seen a vast improvement in packaging over the years from suppliers in Asia. The US market is growing, its consumers are more demanding and, of course, the knock-on effect is good for us in Canada."
A Feast Of Free Advice
They say you can't buy good advice, but at trade fairs organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council you can get a feast of excellent advice - and for free!
At the Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware & Toys, for instance, the four seminars that were organised (two each on the mornings and afternoons of days two and three) were simply packed with gems of invaluable information.
In particular, a big gathering listened carefully to the views of Nadja Pfaff, editor of TOYS, a leading German trade magazine, on the "Latest Trend of Toys in Europe".
Agreeing that boys now sought electronic toys and games while girls preferred traditional toys such as dolls and creative handicrafts, she identified nine noticeable trends in European toy buying, the most significant being the development of PC games.
Other trends she highlighted were fashion and dressing dolls, educational toys, collecting card games, quiz games, prefabricated sets, creative hobbies, licensed toys and, surprisingly, the growing demand among adults for kids' toys!
She added that the European Union's expansion would have a favourable impact on imports.