[Canton Fair Story]Hongmei Furniture: The Attachment of Father and Daughter to the Canton Fair
Around a chic table, foreign buyers who just finished lunch here opened their laptops and began to discuss the sourcing plan. A hostess skillfully brewed Kung Fu tea and served it to them with a smile... This warm scene did not happen in a restaurant, but in a booth of the 126th Canton Fair. The foreign buyers are members of a sourcing group of BUT, the second largest home furnishing retailer in France, while the booth is represented by Zhangzhou Hongmei Furniture Co., Ltd., an internationally renowned brand enterprise that grows in Fujian Province.
“These buyers of BUT have been our customers and friends for many years. They have long regarded our company as their home, just as we have long taken the Canton Fair as our home.” Cai Baozhen, the hostess, head of Hongmei Furniture, smiled and explained to the somewhat stunned reporter, “Our company has been exhibiting in the Canton Fair since 1998. Such a scene often occurs in our booth.”
A female buyer sitting next to the reporter clearly understood Cai Baozhen’s words, and turned back to say “friends” in fluent Mandarin with a smile. In a harmonious atmosphere, the reporter learned from Cai Baozhen the attachment of two generations of Hongmei Furniture to the Canton Fair and how the company grew with the aid of the Canton Fair.
Almost All of Our Customers Come from the Canton Fair
In 1984, with the development of market economy, Cai Baozhen’s father founded Hongmei Furniture. The company produced wooden furniture, which met market demand then, and later mainly produced metal furniture. However, just as a saying goes, “changes always go beyond plans”. In the early 1990s when Hongmei Furniture has mastered the professional skills of metal furniture manufacturing and its business boomed, plastic furniture began to gain popularity. The wide popularity of cheap plastic furniture imposed serious impacts on metal furniture. Many metal furniture manufacturers had to follow the trend.
Hongmei Furniture was also no exception. However, due to the low technical content and low market entry of plastic furniture, it failed to achieve expected results in fierce market competition. During such a period, Cai’s father heard that the Canton Fair is a global platform, and he wanted to return to metal furniture manufacturing and focus on developing foreign trade. Therefore in 1995, the father and daughter went to Guangzhou to find out what the Canton Fair had.
“There was no more booth for us. And I didn’t even expect there can be booths. I was overwhelmed at sight of so many foreign businessmen.” Recalling what she saw, Cai Baozhen laughed, “We didn’t bring our products, but a few boxes of brochures, and couldn’t enter the exhibition hall. So we had to distribute brochures at the door. Unexpectedly, we received a foreign order this way, a big order!”
Cai Baozhen and her father were quite excited. They thought that since they could receive a big order by distributing brochures at the door, if they could exhibit at the fair and display products to foreign businessmen face to face, there must be even greater business opportunities. Therefore, they made up the mind to attend the Canton Fair and decided to make every attempt to achieve this goal.
However, things were not that easy. To enter the Canton Fair, the products must meet requirements on quality, production capacity, etc. To meet these requirements, Hongmei Furniture worked hard for three years and finally got a standard booth in 1998. Sure enough, upon exhibition, its products attracted buyers from all over the world, and the company received many orders, thereby beginning to grow rapidly.
“Since then, we have participated in every session of the Canton Fair for more than 20 years. Our booth has also changed from a standard booth to current brand booth.” Cai said, “As many as 99% of our products are exported. It is fair to say that almost all our customers come from the Canton Fair.”
It is learned that currently, products of Hongmei Furniture sell well all over the world, especially in Europe, America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The company has become a designated supplier of dozens of the world’s top chain stores. Its annual sales are stable at around 300 million CNY.
Canton Fair is a Platform That Helps Enterprises Achieve Self-improvement
At the booth of Hongmei Furniture, exhibits are arranged based on popular styles in Europe, America, Middle East and Southeast Asia. Each section is full of exotic style. The reporter saw that upon entering the booth, foreign buyers went straight to the products they need.
“The Canton Fair is the common ‘home’ for our company and buyers. At home, everything should be convenient and comfortable.” Cai told the reporter. Hongmei Furniture’s products are launched in a targeted manner in local markets. No product is developed randomly. Some are produced at the request of dealers, and some are launched based on dealers’ suggestions and on-site market research. The table in front of the reporter is such a product, which has been selling well in the Middle East for more than ten years and is still very popular. The culture, religion and consumer preferences of the Middle East are integrated into its style, material and pattern.
“Our market validation of products, product exchanges, R&D, etc., rely heavily on the Canton Fair.”
Head of the company has changed from the father to the daughter, but their attachment to the Canton Fair remains the same. In the eyes of Cai Baozhen, the Canton Fair is a platform for not only product trading, but also learning and exchange of product technology, international trade, business trends and information. Thanks to the various functions of the Canton Fair, Hongmei Furniture can continue to strive for excellence and seek constant self-improvement. It has been awarded “Outstanding Enterprise in China’s Furniture Industry” and “Innovation Entity in China’s Furniture Industry”. Its products are “Recommended Brand for Export” of China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Light Industrial Products and Arts-Crafts and “Famous Brand Products in Fujian Province”. The company is one of the main drafting parties of the national standard GB/T3325-2017 General Technical Conditions for Metal Furniture, and gained discourse power in the industry.
Source: Canton Fair Press Center
Reporter: Feng Meikang