Billion-dollar industries are stars of the show

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2008, 12:00am

Visitors to the Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware and Toys will find everything from artificial flowers and costume jewellery, to stationery and bathroom accessories.

Organised by the Trade Development Council (TDC), the show opens today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and runs until Saturday. A TDC spokesman said that while it held several specialised fairs throughout the year, the Summer Sourcing Show offered a comprehensive 'one-stop sourcing platform for related trade buyers'. He added that the mid-year timing provided international buyers with 'a last-minute chance to expand their festive season inventory'.

The gift, houseware and toy sectors are each billion-dollar industries in their own right, and the gift and premiums industry has proven to be the strongest of the three. Local exports of gifts and premiums last year reached a total of HK$166.4billion, a 2per cent increase over the export total in 2006. The TDC spokesman said many Hong Kong companies were now looking into licensing, and that the licensed products would most likely be based on familiar characters from movies or television series, as those have proven to be the most popular in the past.

Meanwhile, the total exports of toys, dolls and games from Hong Kong increased 23per cent from 2006, amounting to HK$95.7billion last year. The spokesman said toy manufacturers had been facing the challenge of creating newer, more innovative toys that matched the level of sophistication seen in children over recent years.

'Today's children are growing up faster than the previous generation,' he said. 'Children aged 12 or above often turn to non-traditional playthings, such as video games, computers, music and cosmetics.' He added that greater effort was also being made to introduce toys into preschools and these products must in turn engage children, requiring 'a higher level of creative input and helping to develop their senses, brain power and co-ordination'.

As for the houseware sector, Hong Kong exports came to a total of HK$12.76billion last year, and the spokesman said local manufacturers battled competitive prices offered by mainland companies with their own attractive licensing deals with overseas manufacturers.

'Licensing is particularly common in the kitchenware sector for many US and European brands,' the spokesman said. 'Consumers respond well to brand-name products as well as other private label items owned by department stores and chain stores.'

He added that Hong Kong companies also aimed to stay competitive through the frequent introduction of innovative designs in an effort to appeal to quality-conscious customers.

The TDC follows these market trends and structures the annual Summer Sourcing Show accordingly. This year, the fair features more than 600 exhibitors from 17 countries and regions. The exhibition grounds are categorised into 10 product zones, two of which are new additions this year.

Named Home Tech and Advertising Premium, the new zones were introduced in response to market trends and demands.

The Home Tech section showcases the latest in home appliances, such as health care electronics, home security, and intelligent home appliances and home automation, while the Advertising Premium zone features novelties, posters, and promotional gifts and articles.

The other product zones offer a bit of everything for everyone. Buyers in the business of home decor and furnishings will find what they need at the Home Living zone, which exhibits do-it-yourself products and houseware, and the Style and Decor zone, where they can sort through a range of decorative products, such as artificial flowers, handicrafts, furniture and lighting.

The Dining and Cooking zone and the Fun and Play zone showcase products suitable for other home and family orientated businesses. Dining and Cooking serves up everything from pans, cookware and kitchen utensils to tableware, glassware, cutlery and even bar accessories. Fun and Play displays a variety of fun-filled products ranging from toys and sporting goods to festive party items.

For items that appeal to the feminine half of the consumer market, the Ladies' World product zone features ladies' gifts and premium items, while the Costume Jewellery zone provides a touch of glamour with the latest looks, colours, shapes and materials.

There will be no shortage of gift ideas in the Gift Ideas section, which displays an array of stationery, paper and packaging, picture and photo frames and promotional and premium items.

Meanwhile, Treasure Island, which the TDC has deemed the special highlight of the show, is a treasure trove of brand names and products chosen for their design, innovation and craftsmanship.

In addition to setting up the various product zones and the five group pavilions, each corresponding to a different country or region, the fair hosts seminars aimed at providing buyers with the latest information.

Held on the fair grounds with free admission upon registration, the seminars are offered from tomorrow to Friday and are conducted in Cantonese or English, the latter being accompanied by a simultaneous Putonghua translation. Seminar topics include the latest trends within the lifestyle products market, the latest on product safety directives, and the prospects of the toy market. There will also be a forum on 'How to Protect Your Account Receivables Against the Credit Rating Crisis of Overseas Enterprises'.

The TDC Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware and Toys opens from 9.30am to 6.30pm every day from today until Friday, and from 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday.