In the offices of Plus Me International Limited, there is no showroom, and visitors will not see any of the products they manufacture anywhere on display.
“We are different from other companies,” explained Managing Director Doris Yu. “We do not sell our own products directly, and we do not have a company website for clients to look up and see what business we handle.”
Instead, the company creates products for clients, which can be found in high-end department stores around the world. As Yu put it, they operate “behind the curtain.” She likens the operation of Plus Me to the phrase: “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” Or, in this case, behind many successful products and brands there is often an unnamed company that does a great deal of the hard work.
Plus Me’s products include home textiles, jewellery, electronic items and watches. The company cooperates with its clients on all stages of the product development cycle, from initial concept through to delivery. They work together to develop the product, then source a factory to manufacture it and carry out the necessary inspections during production, organize photo-shooting of the finished products, and arranging for packaging and delivery.
In fact, even before the manufacturing process begins, the company is busy spotting upcoming trends, before communicating with the designers and buyers to deliver the concept. Keeping a sharp eye on changing trends also ensures their products and designs remain distinct in the marketplace.
The majority of the company’s products are made in China, but they also manufacture some items in Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and Japan. “We rarely have a full team in our offices in Hong Kong as our staff members are often travelling – with and without clients – to visit factories, monitor production and also for sourcing,” Yu said.
Plus Me’s products are sold in locations around the world including the United States, but the company has not been badly affected by the trade war, as its main markets are in Europe, particularly Germany. Its products can be found in famous department stores and specialist stores around the world including Hudson’s Bay in Canada, Galeria Kaufhof, Kaufhaus des Westens, Klingel, HSE and Christ in Germany, and Harrods, John Lewis, Topshop and Selfridges in the United Kingdom.
Plus Me is also seeking new markets. “We are contemplating expanding to Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia,” Yu said.
Plus Me was established in 1986 by Yu’s father. Yu herself officially joined the business in the 1990s, having previously worked as a banker in Hong Kong. However, the company had already been around for some time in a previous incarnation. Yu explained that in the early 1970s, it had a home mailing operation, with its main clients being large mail order companies. At that time, long before the arrival of internet shopping, mail order from catalogues was big businesses.
“We begin doing mail order with our clients, and we were able to offer matching designs in products like bags, scarves and belts, among a wide range of products including household and bathroom items, Christmas items and gifts.”
In the 1980s, as it became easier for overseas businesses to access the Mainland, some of them chose to go direct to factories to get their products made. But this strategy was not necessarily successful for companies who tried to cut out the middleman. “We received many comments that the clients were not impressed by the quality of the goods, and had been unable to get the factories to produce what they wanted,” Yu said.
In fact, finding the right factory continues to be a crucial part of the process, so Plus Me’s long experience and contacts in the manufacturing world mean it is well placed to find the right fit.
“We have plenty of sources in our basket; we are like business matching,” Yu said. “We have the flexibility and can provide the right factory for our clients to manufacture their products.”
Plus Me also moves with shifting demands as market trends evolve. For example, it is increasingly offering local repackaging, distribution and delivery services. “This saves time, cost, and reduces the amount of wrapping fabric to be used, so the environment does not have to suffer too much waste from repackaging.”
The sensitivity involved in being a manufacturer for other brand names means that Plus Me has to avoid industry exhibitions and must be very careful about keeping business secrets, from pricing and materials to which factories are being used.
This seems like it would make marketing and winning new clients more difficult. On the other hand, keeping the details of their business and clients under wraps means that Plus Me has gained a reputation for discretion.
“Clients love to work with my team for not revealing or posting what we do to any social media platforms. Similarly, when we work with their brands, we do not reveal any of their items.”
Company : Plus Me International Limited
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