HK Watch Fair has 14% gain in orders

The 24th annual Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair reported healthy gains in orders, an increase in foreign visitors and optimism about business in 2006.

The five-day trade fair, ended Sept. 11, was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. It featured 807 exhibitors (5 percent over 2004, its biggest number yet) from 17 countries and regions, displaying watches, clocks, parts and components. Newcomers included suppliers from Jordan and Russia. More than 16,000 buyers attended, a 5.7 percent gain over 2004. Business was good, with buyers placing 14% more orders than last year, says the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), one of its organizers. The HKTDC also found a rise in per order quantities (up 13 percent) and unit prices (up 10 percent). The unit price rise, it said, was due to higher raw material costs, varying exchange rates and buyers “doing more sourcing of higher price items for the higher-end market.”

The increase in orders was supported by optimism among buyers and sellers about the watch and clock business in 2006. A survey for the HKTDC by Oracle Added Value, an independent market research company, polled 410 exhibitors and 574 buyers. It found 52% of vendors and 56% of buyers expect business next year to be “slightly better” or “much better” than this year.  Only one in four (28 percent of exhibitors, 25 percent of buyers) expect no change.

In addition, two-thirds of buyers and exhibitors expect multi-functional watches to be hot sellers in 2006, especially those with MP3 or health/sports-related features; two out of five said fashion watches have the greatest growth potential worldwide in 2006, and many said sports watches will continue to be “well-received in the European and U.S, markets.”
The survey also found 59 percent of exhibitors are diversifying or developing business in mainland China. Exhibitors said the Chinese mainland has the biggest growth rate in the retail market (about 19 percent), followed by emerging markets (Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, 16 percent) and Western Europe (16 percent).

The countries and regions sending to the show the most visitors (excluding Hong Kong) were the Chinese mainland (2,203, up 12.2 percent), Japan (623, up 14.5 percent) and the United States (535, up 5.7 percent). Europe (especially Germany) sent 1,059 visitors, a 4 percent gain. Buyers from Switzerland, Australia, Brazil, and the Philippines each recorded double-digit growth.

Among attendees were 45 buying missions, comprising 1,600 representatives of major department stores, wholesale markets and associations in 32 markets, invited by the HKTDC to visit the fair.

The fair is co-organized by the HKTDC, Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries. The 2006 fair will be held Sept. 6 to10, 2006 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.