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Children's sunglasses: Divergent measures aim to revive exports

Companies are cutting down MOQ and delivery time to attract more orders. Prices are kept low by simplifying designs.

Suppliers of children sunglasses in China are taking proactive measures to attract more overseas orders and boost falling sales. From January to September 2009, the majority of exporters saw revenue in the line decrease 15 to 30 percent YoY. Only a few sustained growth, partly by widening their selections.

Reducing MOQ is one of the strategies implemented by most manufacturers. Companies now accept purchases of 1,000 to 1,200 pairs, when previously the minimum was 3,000 pairs. Consequently, delivery time has been cut from 35 to 20 days.

Doing so increases the number of styles that can be included in a single transaction. This, however, is a challenge for many makers because they need to rearrange assembly lines to accommodate small orders better. More teams are then formed to handle simultaneous production of different designs.

As a result, efficiency is negatively affected and output is about 25 percent lower than before the changes were implemented. Additional training is being conducted to familiarize the staff with the revised processes and to minimize defects.

Employees are also compelled to work overtime to meet shorter deadlines. Moreover, suppliers have to ensure that materials are always on-hand so that delays in manufacturing can be prevented.

To keep existing clients and attract new ones, companies are not making any upward adjustments in prices. This is in spite of rising material costs and a narrower profit margin.

Some exporters have been able to lower quotes by 5 percent at most. They are simplifying designs to compensate for the reduction. Likewise, a number of factories are increasing output of products for buyers that have less stringent requirements.

On the other hand, several suppliers prefer focusing on upscale releases for popular brands abroad, as the returns are higher even with small orders.

Products & prices
Industry overview
Children's sunglass
  Wenzhou Taili is offering model K9752, sunglasses with UVA- and UVB-protected PC lenses.
Products & prices

The latest children sunglasses from China are designed similarly to adult versions, although the former are simpler in appearance. They typically follow the color trends for children wear.

Releases for girls come in yellow, green, red, purple and other bright shades. Some feature oversized frames, imitating women fashion sunglasses. Boys?models are often more sporty than stylish.

Most companies get third-party product certification, even for low-end designs, because buyers usually shoulder the testing fees.

China-made children sunglasses range from $0.40 to $2 per pair, depending primarily on what the frames and lenses are made of, and where they are purchased. The type of printing used for pattern application also affects quotes. This adds $0.04 to $0.15 per pair.

Components are often sourced from specialist factories in Shenzhen, Wenzhou and Xiamen in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. Assembly is done in-house.

Plastic frames usually cost $0.37 per pair. Acrylic lenses are about $0.04, while PC versions are at least $0.08. Branded types go for $0.75 and above.

For upscale designs, the components can be procured from the US, Germany and Japan. Although better in quality, these can be 20, 30 or even 50 percent more expensive than local versions.

Low-end models have PC or acrylic frames and lenses. They come in solid, bright colors. A number of releases boast UV400 protection and a few are FDA-approved.

Sunglasses for the midrange are made of PC, acrylic, CP and PP. Star-, heart- and flower-shaped rims are adopted in addition to the typical rectangular and oval types. Some frames are embellished with a printed motif. Rhinestones are also adopted as trimming. UV400 protection is standard for products offered in this category. Designs meet FDA, CE, EN 71, EN 1836:2005, AS/NZS 1067:2003 and ANSI Z80.3-2001 requirements.

Aluminum and other metal frames are common in high-end models. Lenses come in PC or acrylic, and can be flash mirror-coated. Releases typically have UVA and UVB protection. To enhance the external appearance, patterns are applied allover the frame and temples. Licensed characters and flashing LEDs are used to decorate sunglasses as well.

Children's sunglass
  Best Way's model BKS6006 is a pair of sunglasses trimmed with clear rhinestones.
Industry overview

There are at least 1,500 manufacturers of sunglasses for 2 to 12-year-olds in China, 65 percent of which course shipments through more than 500 agents nationwide. Thirty-five percent of makers have direct export capability.

Most companies also offer adult styles and reading glasses, devoting only 5 to 15 percent of production to children models. OEM designs dominate output.

Private locally owned businesses account for 60 percent of the supplier base. Foreign-invested enterprises constitute 35 percent and SOEs comprise the rest.

The majority of the industry is made up of small and midsize factories. The former typically focus on low-end releases. Some are subcontractors for large exporters. The monthly capacity is about 500,000 pairs and annual foreign sales reach $5 million. Workshops occupy 5,000sqm at most. Their employees do not exceed 400, including two or three who handle sampling.

Midsize companies emphasize both low-end and midrange models. They generate overseas revenue of $5 million to $10 million yearly. The 5,000 to 10,000sqm plants are run by more than 400 workers, and turn out between 500,000 and 1 million pairs each month. Apart from sample makers, suppliers usually hire up to five in-house designers.

Large enterprises, which account for about 10 percent of the manufacturing base, offer sunglasses across all price points. Occupying more than 10,000sqm, their facilities have a monthly yield of at least 1 million pairs.

With annual export sales of at least $10 million, big companies often cater to both OEM and ODM clients. Their workforce exceeds 1,000 and includes more than five product development specialists.

Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian are the major hubs for children sunglasses. The first is home to about 750 suppliers, most of which are based in Wenzhou. Low-end releases dominate output in the area.

There are at least 500 Guangdong makers, with many clustered in Dongguan. The province focuses on upscale models for international markets. Fujian companies are mainly located in Xiamen and have Taiwan investors.

This article "Children's sunglasses: Divergent measures aim to revive exports" is originally posted in Global Sources.

Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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