7 March 2005
Fancy Boxes(HKTDC Packaging, Vol 02,2004)
Presentation plays a vital role in product perception and value, which explains why so many companies source high quality boxes that show their offerings in the best light.
Whatever the end-use, Hong Kong companies have developed the specialist skills needed to produce great-looking boxes in almost any material that can both sell and be sold. S.C.P.P.C. Ltd, for example, has been involved in the printing, packaging and paper products business since 1968, but has only recently moved into fancy boxes.
"We were looking for ways to diversify our business and build on all the expertise we have, so we started to make fancy boxes about three years ago," explains marketing manager Marcus Chow.
The company's technology gives it an edge, he claims. "We have many kinds of machines, which means that we can handle the whole process in-house from pre-print to post-print for even the most complicated orders."
S.C.P.P.C. produces its own range of paper boxes, as well as made-to-order items such as a recent over-sized jewellery box with hinged lid and multiple drawers finished in flock paper.
"The actual boxes we make are quite simple but the many accessories and finishes using ribbons, cloth and metal parts require a lot of additional craftwork," says Chow. "The trend is for materials to be more complicated, although the look at the moment is for plain and simple colours and graphics."
The company has bought the copyright for several patterns from European designers to use on its own box lines, which find ready buyers among agents in Europe and the US.
Minimum order values of US$3,000 take an average three weeks to fill at S.C.P.P.C.'s factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, which employs 800 workers and is ISO 9001-certified.
Almost as experienced is Universal Metal Plastic Trading Ltd, which has been making boxes since 1975 and now has a factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland that covers 8.09 hectares and employs more than 3,000 workers.
"We specialise in making boxes for jewellery, although some are used for gift items, pens and watches," explains sales manager Mimi Liu. "We are one of the bigger companies and offer one of the most extensive ranges of products in everything from plastic, paper and flock to leatherette, aluminium and wood."
Universal Metal has a monthly production of seven million pieces, and can deliver minimum order values of US$2,000 consisting of 1,200 units per colour per item 35-45 days after confirmation.
"We have designers in Hong Kong and on the mainland, and most of our designs are done in-house," says Liu. "Trends are quite region-specific but generally there is a move towards paper box items because they are more fashionable than leatherette and flock, which have been around a long time and are also cheaper to make."
Selling all over the world, but with primary markets in Europe and the US, Universal Metal seeks to differentiate itself through the high quality of its products.
The company won The Century International Quality Era Award (Gold) in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2003, and The International Arch of Europe Award for Quality (Platinum) 2004 in Frankfurt, Germany.
"They were both very pleasant surprises," Liu admits, adding that Universal Metal likes to meet with customers so they can see the quality and workmanship of its boxes. "We have been around a long time so they know we are doing something right."
Meanwhile, tin has turned to gold for Profit Eon Industries Ltd, which originally made plastic and metal products but decided to focus on the silvery-white metal about 10 years ago. "Tin is beautiful," insists manager Kenny Chiu. "You can make many shapes and patterns in it and it is the only metal on which you can print many different colours."
He sees the many new designs created by in-house designers in Hong Kong and the mainland as one of his company's major advantages, and a key factor in ever-increasing sales volume to Europe and the US - despite commodity cost increases.
Profit Eon's design range spans a broad spectrum, from vivid Father Christmas and stocking shapes catering for children to classic designs for storing tea and coffee.
"The technique for producing tin boxes and printing on them is very specialised," Chiu claims. "We need 15 or more machines in one full production line and use only the best tin plate from Japan."
Profit Eon's 220,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan can deliver minimum orders of 3,000 pieces 45 days after confirmation. "As a family business, our ability to react more quickly than the competition will always keep us one step ahead," Chiu insists.
So whether selling the box or what's inside it, there can be no better source for quality boxes of all shapes and sizes than the skilled and highly inventive manufacturers of Hong Kong.
WRITTEN BY ALISTAIR WADDELL
Finesse Toys Co Ltd
Universal Metal Plastic Trading Ltd
Wang Lee Offset Printing Ltd