One-stop-shop a winner's vision

by Anna Tong

Hubert Tien, managing director; Winnie Tien, administration officer, Runway Global Limited
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Expanding garment manufacturer looking for experienced merchandisers

Fashions change with seasons and trends. The latest look on the runway soon becomes out-of-date, so retailers are constantly alert to keep up with the very latest in styles, sourcing from garment manufacturing companies that are prompt and reliable in filling orders.

Runway Global Limited took up the challenge of manufacturing such creative and fashionable apparel to meet the needs of retailers in the US, Europe, Japan, Australia and other countries using talented fashion designers acutely aware of what styles and trend are hot, and what are not.

The growing company was developed originally from a vision of its managing director Hubert Tien and his business partner, who decided to provide a vertical service with their supply chain management. "We deal with everything from the fabric selection down to the delivery of finished garments to the client. After our clients place the order and supply the specifications of the garments, they just need to wait 120 days for delivery, and never have to worry about the particulars," says Mr Tien.

This vision of building a "one-stop shop" has proved a winning move. Since the company opened its factory in February 2004, business has exceeded expectations. And, as the company accumulated experience, Mr Tien and his staff have learned how to smoothly oversee every little procedure in the garment manufacturing process, nimbly overcoming problems to produce fashionable garments down to the last stitch in the specifications.

Today, Runway's executives are keeping a close watch on the increasing competition from businesses in China. "We opened our own factory in China to provide an efficient one-stop service for overseas fashion retailers and aim to take our opportunities and continue expanding as customers see the value of our strategy," says Ms Winnie Tien, administration officer at Runway Global.

Focused recruitment

The overwhelming growth of the company has brought an ongoing need to employ more merchandisers and assistant merchandisers to help keep the company's service-driven business up to speed. Runway is now looking for experienced hands with a background in merchandising.

"Graduates in textiles and merchandising from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Vocational Training Council or The Clothing Industry Training Authority, who have had a few years of work experience, are some of our target recruits,'' says Ms Tien. "Experienced people, who can easily adapt to our practices and grow with the company, will add value to the business," she adds.

She points out that candidates wishing to enter the field will need good language skills and the ability to adapt to different situations. An essential entry requirement is a background in a related field. Other skills are Chinese typing and good spoken Mandarin since the merchandiser will have to communicate frequently with staff in the company's China factory.

"Almost 90 per cent of the time in the factory is spent talking with staff," Ms Tien stresses. "Being able to speak the same language means a great deal."

The company's vision of a business that is family-orientated has manifested itself in the work environment among the staff. Ms Tien cites the happy environment in the office despite the sometimes stressful nature of the job and the frequent need to work overtime. "Staff spend more time in the office than anywhere else so we do our best to make sure the conditions are pleasant," she adds.

Mr Tien also notes the generally positive responses he received from staff when doing the latest annual appraisal. "Nearly all staff members expressed satisfaction with their jobs, adding that they are happy to be working here," he says. "This gives me real satisfaction since it shows that this part of our vision is also working out."

Multi-task a value

Ms Tien likens a merchandiser's responsibilities to a Swiss army knife, since they must do everything from invoicing to monitoring all stages of garment production. "A merchandiser's job cannot be narrowed down to a few major responsibilities. They must do a bit of everything," she remarks.

Since business is good and the company is expanding, salaries have been adjusted to keep pace with current trends in the garment industry, with due consideration paid to the skill levels of the staff and performance.

As a result, the company enjoys a high staff retention rate, and its current vacancies spring from its continuing expansion.


Taken from Career Times 23 March 2007
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