3 March 2004
Protective Packaging(HKTDC Packaging, Vol 01,2004)
Wrapping & Accessories
Carpenters Mfy Ltd is an expert in making wooden boxes for wine, jewellery and many other consumer goods
Quality is the watchword for Hong Kong's makers of protective packaging such as Carpenters Mfy Ltd, whose commitment to producing excellent goods is paying off handsomely.
Facing stiff competition for its US customers from cheaper products offered by competitors on the Chinese mainland, Carpenters shifted its market focus to Europe and Japan a year ago.
"The US is more concerned with price not quality, so we had to find new markets or face closure," says Lawrence Shing, managing director of the two-year-old manufacturer of wooden boxes, wooden toys and household products.
The strategy is working, as May this year will see the opening of a new annexe at its Changping factory on the Chinese mainland, bringing the total floor area to 200,000 square feet.
"One of the hardest parts of the production process, and one we pay a lot of attention to, is making sure products are practical for mass production," says Shing, whose 400 workers produce more than 200,000 items monthly. "Being honest and recognising what we can and can't do is also very important."
The firm's six-strong design team works primarily with birch, pinewood, and Medium Density Fibre (MDF). "If buyers don't need wood grain then I would suggest MDF, as it is 50% cheaper than birch or pinewood," adds Shing.
Typical of its products are an MDF wooden credit card holder box (US$4.50 FOB Hong Kong), and a birchwood spy camera box (US$2). Other products include a pinewood wine box with velvet lining, price available on request. Delivery time for minimum orders of 500 pieces is 45 days after order confirmation.
A similar focus on quality and design, mainly using paper, is also important to seven-year-old Pro-Pack Ltd, according to manager Danny Cheung.
"The advantage of paper is that there is no production quantity limitation, and it is more convenient to control during production than plastic," says Cheung.
Paper products comprise more than 90% of its output at a 10,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen on the mainland, where 150 workers turn out 200,000-300,000 items a month.
Paper for items such as a blue paper jewellery box with velvet lining is sourced from Korea and Indonesia. Cheung says paper is also combined with wood, metal and plastic, but on a limited scale, since paper and velvet is the favoured mix. A design team of 10 focuses on OEM products. Minimum order size is 3,000 pieces delivered within 30 days of order confirmation to its main markets in Europe, the US and Australia. FOB Hong Kong prices are available on request.
Also looking to cash in on paper products is four-year-old Luk Tak Polybag Co, which has just launched a new paper bag line. "We hope it will account for 30% of production," says sales manager Leung Kwan Yuen.
Paper bags as well as polybags, EPE foam, lamination, blister and PVC bags manufactured at a 7,000-square-metre factory on the mainland comprise the firm's OEM line. Luk Tak also has its own designs, which Leung claims are key to its success in a competitive market. "Our own designs enhance our quality," he says.
One of its most popular products is a PE "bom-bom" bag (with room for a logo) that can make sounds to help fans barrack for their favourite sports team. "We will be looking to produce more of these types of products in coming months," says Leung, adding that product lines are changed frequently.
Minimum order size for main markets such as the US, Europe and Hong Kong varies from item to item, but is 20,000 pieces for shopping bags, with delivery 30 days after order confirmation. FOB Hong Kong prices are available on application.
The mainland is the major market for Best Pack Enterprises Co, and in order to compete against mainland manufacturers offering ever lower prices, cost is chief among the firm's priorities, says manager Chan Wang Wai.
This manufacturer of foam products, blister trays and soft bags has been lowering its prices a few percentage points every year and as a result largely uses mainland-sourced PE because of its lower cost. "We don't want to expand to new materials because it would be very expensive, and the market is not so big that we would be able to gain an advantage," says Chan.
Aside from low prices, Best Pack believes the use of recycled materials is another of its selling points. "We use recycled materials for value-added products," explains Chan. "It is easy to source from vendors, so there is no shortage of supply."
Best Pack's 5,000-square-metre factory turns out 50 tonnes of plastic packaging materials a month in minimum orders of 10,000 pieces delivered within 1-3 weeks of a confirmed order. Standard materials are clear plastic, but colours can be added for large orders, and FOB Hong Kong prices are available on request.
So whether the market demands wood, MDF, paper or plastic, Hong Kong's packaging manufacturers have plenty of proven protective packaging to offer.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
Best Pack Enterprises Co
Unit 6A, 25/F
Cable TV Tower
9 Hoi Shing Rd
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Continental Packaging Ltd
Flat D, 20/F, Blk 1
Tai Ping Ind Centre
57 Ting Kok Rd
Tai Po, New Territories
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