Nearly 17,000 Buyers Take in 30th Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair

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Nearly 17,000 trade buyers took in the HKTDC Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair, 7-11 September, with emerging market visitors up more than 12 per cent over last year. Visitor gains included the Middle East (up 46 per cent), Indonesia (up 40 per cent), Malaysia (up 34 per cent), India (up 29 per cent) and the Chinese mainland (up 11 per cent).

Mainland Promise

An independent onsite survey commissioned by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), and conducted during the first four days of the fair, assessed market trends and the outlook for the watch and clock industry. Researchers gathered opinions from 408 exhibitors and 705 buyers. The survey showed that industry players are cautiously optimistic about the coming year, believing that the Chinese mainland market will be bright. More than 80 per cent of exhibitors interviewed received orders, or were negotiating orders, during the fair.

Asked about market growth, about 80 per cent of exhibitors and buyers said the market in 2012 will be better or remain the same as 2011. More than 50 per cent of exhibitors expect the mainland market will have the highest growth among retail markets for watches and clocks next year, followed by Southeast Asia (13 per cent) and the Middle East (13 per cent).

More than 60 per cent of exhibitors interviewed said their companies have already developed sale channels in the mainland market or have plans to sell on the mainland in the next three years. Strategies to develop the mainland market include setting up a retailing/wholesaling network on the mainland, expanding existing retailing/wholesaling networks there, and increasing investment in developing their house brand. Among exhibitors who already have mainland sales channels, 75 per cent expect to increase their sales volume in 2012.

Gary Lau, Brand Manager of Free Town Watch Products Ltd, one of the fair’s exhibitor, said that the Chinese mainland has huge market potential

Cost Concerns

Industry concerns about rising production costs on the mainland were also addressed by the survey. Many exhibitors who have mainland production lines are facing rising costs for labour, land, raw materials and tax and government fees; 36 per cent said they will have to increase product prices as a result.

Shorter product cycles and a need to minimise risk make buyers more likely to ask suppliers for faster delivery times. About 22 per cent of buyers require products to be shipped within one month.

Richard Colman, a German buyer at the fair, expects the mainland market to have the highest growth among retail markets for watches and clocks next year

Paint it Black

Among buyers, 67 per cent said they consider the mainland to be the most promising market, followed by Southeast Asia (18 per cent) and India (15 per cent). Respondents expect that fashion watches, sports watches and luxury/jewellery watches will have the biggest market growth potential next year. The most popular colour for watch dials and bands will be black.

Regarding brand sales, 22 per cent of buyers said they have sourced brand watches. Among them, nearly 70 per cent said they currently source, or are considering sourcing, Hong Kong brands. Buyers said the major factors contributing to the success of the Hong Kong watch and clock industry are its high product quality, innovative product design and competitive pricing.

Jeff Freedman, a buyer from the United States, was at the fair sourcing quality branded timepieces from Hong Kong

Sourcing Issues

The survey also showed that 47 per cent of exhibitors source their parts and components from Japan. Among them, about 30 per cent switched sourcing from Japan to other countries because of the Japanese earthquake in March.

“The HKTDC Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair is the largest event of its kind in the world, providing an excellent international sourcing and marketing platform for timepieces,” said Benjamin Chau, Deputy Executive Director of the HKTDC. “The survey showed that exhibitors and buyers mainly use Hong Kong trade fairs to find new buyers or suppliers. The Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair will continue to play an important role for companies that want to establish their business network,” he said.

The HKTDC Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair was organised by the HKTDC, the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association Ltd and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries Ltd. The fair celebrated its 30th anniversary with a wide range of major brands and more than 700 exhibitors from 12 countries and regions taking part.

Jeff Lam, Manager of Prince Jewellery & Watch Company, and Ashley Ng, Brand Coordinator of The Chinese Timekeeper, were both pleased with the promotional value the fair brought

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