Fewer buyers expected at electronics fair

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 12:00am

Asia's biggest electronics trade show opened yesterday at the newly expanded Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, but exhibitors expect to see fewer buyers and overseas orders this year, given the global business environment.

The Hong Kong Electronics Fair's organiser, the Trade Development Council, has sponsored 2,500 overseas buyers to attend the show. The move is part of an HK$80 million effort to subsidise about 10,000 overseas buyers to attend the council's shows this year amid the downturn. Still, exhibitors do not expect business at the event to improve much.

Michael Hale, international sales manager with Zhuhai-based HiVi (China), which makes high-end audio systems, expects the number of buyers at the fair to be the lowest in five years.

'Just look around. You can tell there are fewer buyers. It used to be very busy. I'm not very optimistic about orders.'

Mr Hale said most luxury products like his firm's sold less well in a downturn, when buyers were more price-sensitive.

Raymond Yip Chak-yan, the council's assistant executive director, said the number of mainland buyers at the fair was up about 85 per cent year on year, but that the number from developed markets such as the United States and the European Union was down by 10 to 15 per cent on average.

The Trade Development Council is trying to court first-time buyers from emerging markets such as India, Russia and the Middle East in an effort partially to offset the drop in buyers from developed countries.

Brazilian buyer Fabiano Holzmann is attending the fair for the first time to source surveillance equipment such as closed-circuit television cameras. He said he was attracted by the lower prices this year.

The fair is the first event to make use of part of the venue's expanded atrium, which will be completed next month. As a result, this year the fair has additional space totalling 7,200 square metres - enough for an additional 360 booths. The HK$1.4 billion atrium expansion covers 19,400 square metres and will accommodate 1,000 booths.