Buyers spoilt for choice at truly global fairs

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am

Christmas has passed but do not think that it is time to put away the toys. Companies from around the globe will showcase their wares at this year's HKTDC Toys & Games Fair and the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair. Both fairs will run simultaneously at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from today until Thursday.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council has secured 2,005 exhibitors from 37 countries, ensuring it remains the largest toy fair of its kind in Asia and the second largest in the world. There will be 1,040 local exhibitors, of which 225 are new.

International representation is strong with 965 overseas exhibitors, with Argentina, Belgium, Ireland and Russia sending representatives for the first time.

This year marks the ninth anniversary of the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair and it will host 222 exhibitors from 13 countries and regions. Buyers will be spoilt for choice with 72 local exhibitors, of which 33 are new this year, and 150 overseas exhibitors.

HKTDC brings specifically targeted buyers to the fair as organised missions and makes an effort to reach new buyers. 'We use our network of offices and agents worldwide and our close relationships with trade journals and international media to recruit buyers from far and wide,' an HKTDC spokesman said.

This year, there are 41 confirmed buying missions organised for the toy fair and 27 confirmed buying missions for the stationery fair.

The spokesman explained the zones of the fairs. 'For the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, there are nine designated product zones - Battery-operated and electronic toys, Baby Toys & Products, Candy Toys, Educational Toys & Games, Hobby Goods, Magic Items, Outdoor & Sporting Items, Paper Products & Toy Packaging, and Soft Toys & Dolls, offering more variety and convenience to our buyers for sourcing,' he said.

'To cater for the evolving toy trends we will have two seminars covering the topics 'How to Obtain and Profit from Film Licences' and 'Latest Product Safety Directives of the Toys Industry'.

HKTDC also partnered with Messe Frankfurt (HK) to organise the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair. The spokesman said that visitors could find a wide range of products in the three zones - Children's Stationery & School Supplies, Office Supplies, and Paper & Printing Products, while staying informed with the seminar on the 'Latest Market Trends and Product Designs for the Stationery Industry'.

One issue that cannot be ignored this year is the global economic downturn which could make it hard for companies to increase business of non-essential commodities. However, there seems to be a strong resolve among exhibitors to weather the storm through innovation and strong customer relations.

Salley Sze is the general manager of Eastcolight, a Hong Kong-based educational manufacturer and exporter of small telescopes and microscopes. She said that the company was participating in the fair to meet potential customers and maintain the strong relationships it had with existing customers. 'The challenging financial situation means that the show will be a platform for us to emphasise the sustainability and strength of our company and demonstrate the world-class services we offer,' Mrs Sze said.

Tech Group Hong Kong managing director Stanley Yu Hok-lin has two clear objectives. 'We have to heavily promote our new developments and attract the attention of buyers from other categories and from new markets,' Mr Yu said. 'Our business has been affected by this economic downturn. However, we believe that we can get through it by putting more effort into marketing and research and design.'

Design company COG hopes to gain new customers and update existing customers on its latest developments. 'One new brand we will present is Mindz, a comprehensive range of multimedia and craft learning materials,' director James Lim said.

The stationery fair exhibitors were also upbeat about the future.

Green and Associates has participated in the fair since 2006 and has found it extremely helpful for new business.

Marketing manager Denise Ng said the company continued to exhibit because it was a great chance to meet customers and launch new products.

Not wanting to dwell too much on the economic downturn, she said: 'Luckily the recent business situation has not affected us a lot. A few clients have been more careful and conservative in their placement of orders and some customers have frozen long-term plans.

'We have designed some less expensive items to fit in with the needs of the market. Good quality products and services are the key factors in order to survive,' Ms Ng said.

Florence Wong, branch manager of art material provider ColArt Hong Kong, said: 'This is ColArt's fifth time to take part in the HKTDC stationery fair. Our aim is to develop more educational and creative items for the mass market, but not necessarily to keep pushing prices down. We will tailor art supplies that best suit our target customers.'

Seminars by expert speakers and social events organised throughout both fairs offer opportunities for exhibitors and buyers to expand their industry knowledge and their network of international contacts.

The fairs will be open from 9.30am to 6.30pm from today to Wednesday and from 9.30am to 5pm on Thursday. For mobile users in Hong Kong, fair information is now available at the HKTDC WAP site:

Raymond Yip, HKTDC assistant executive director, said: 'Without time and geographical constraints in the internet world, the HKTDC WAP site gives you convenience and flexibility, in which you can stay in tune with our fair information.'

He said the site can be browsed anywhere, anytime and used to register for free admission.

Keep in touch

Fair information for mobile phone users in Hong Kong is available at the special Mobile Info Site - Browse it anywhere and anytime, and use it to register for free admission.