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TDC Unveils Global Trade & Service Promotions at 30th Anniversary Market Day Exhibition

Snow-boarding may be an activity furthest from the mind of most Hong Kong manufacturers, but as one of the fastest-growing sports in Germany, it is spawning huge business opportunities for local companies along with other sports activities.

According to a feature report in the latest issue of International Market News (Vol 12/5) published by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, German enthusiasm for playing sport is continuing to boost Hong Kong's exports.

The German sporting retail market is worth about HK$65 billion to HK$70 billion. Out of Germany's population of 81 million inhabitants, every second person participates in some activity and every fourth person is a member of a sports club. Furthermore, German sporting-goods shoppers are ready to outspend most of their European neighbours.

Amounting to huge quantities of sports shoes, apparel and equipment, Hong Kong is very important to the German retail players, where a handful of buying groups and department store chains cover some two-thirds of Germany's sporting goods market. They source extensively from Hong Kong companies, many of whom are manufacturing in China.

Snowboard sales this year are estimated to reach around 55,000 to 60,000 boards worth HK$210-240 million, bringing an accompanying market for apparel and accessories from the image-conscious snowboarders who want to distinguish themselves from skiers.

Snowboarders sport caps -- with styles ranging from the conventional to almost crazy -- to special gloves and trousers worn to get maximum protection while carving, cruising or jumping. Layering is also chic among snowboarders, which translates into wearing several shirts, sweaters and vests at the same time and, potential multiples of business for Hong Kong fashion companies.

In-line skating is another fast-growing sport, growing annually by around 50-60 %, notes the IMN report. Recent estimates place last year's sales at about 1.5 million pairs or well over HK$1 billion and growth is expected to accelerate based on the low level of market penetration, the rising popularity of in-line hockey and the booming demand for accessories.

Following in-line hockey fever is by a booming demand for hockey sticks, helmets, protection gear, goals and other hockey equipment, according to the report.

Swimming is Germany's number one sport. Well over 40% of Germany's 45 million swimmers buy new swimwear each year. Hong Kong is traditionally strong in this import-driven market.

According to the IMN report, a recent survey by management consultants, Kurt Salmon Associates, expects Hong Kong to continue to expand its overall market share of Germany's sporting market.

The overall outlook in real terms for sporting goods turnover for is expected to increase by 7.4% between 1996 and 1999. Although that is less than 2% growth per year, the report notes different growth rates for various product lines.

According to a survey quoted in the report, the best opportunities lie ahead for outdoor and camping equipment where real growth is expected to increase by more than 9%.

For press enquiries, contact Roslyn Young of TDC's Publicity Services, telephone: (852) 2584 4132.

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Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council