Hong Kong: What You Need to Know
November 22, 2019 | The Toy Association, along with other members of the toy community, met with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in New York City on November 19 to discuss the escalating tensions throughout Hong Kong and what impact this may have on members preparing for their annual toy meetings there in January.
The HKTDC’s regional director of the Americas, Ralph Chow, focused talks on its business at the Hong Kong Convention Center, which has thus far been unaffected by the ongoing protests, and reaffirmed the HKTDC’s stance that Hong Kong remains an epicenter for global business. He also highlighted the extra safety measures the HKTDC has put in place for those doing business at the convention center.
The Toy Association took the opportunity to raise the concerns of its members, many of whom run showrooms and hold their meetings off-site from the convention center. Notably, most Toy Association member showrooms are concentrated in Tsim Sha Tsui, located in the southern Kowloon district of Hong Kong, where most of the protests and rallies are now unfolding.
Ken Lewis, CEO of 4Kidz, Inc., and Toy Association member, also shared his first-hand perspective during the meeting. “The situation in Hong Kong is fluid and for those of us based in Tsim Sha Tsui, there is still a lot of uncertainty,” said Lewis. “Right now, we are preparing to take meetings as scheduled in January and offer video conference line reviews for those that choose not to attend in person. We are working to accommodate our vendors, while keeping business moving.”
Thus far, sources indicate that Target, Disney, Burlington, Canadian Tire, among others have opted out, while Mattel and Spin Master are operating "business as usual." Meanwhile, previously utilized showroom venues, such as the Peninsula Hotel and New Mandarin Plaza, have been at the center of the social unrest.
“The Toy Association’s main focus is on the challenges facing our member companies’ showrooms,” said Marian Bossard, executive vice president of global market events, who represented The Toy Association during the meeting. “Without an official organizer of showroom activity, there is no centralized source in Hong Kong for members to turn to for accurate and up-to-date information to make sound business decisions for travel.”
The Toy Association will continue to provide updates on the situation and is working to support members seeking other options. As some members opt to move meetings to Los Angeles instead of Hong Kong from January 5 through 10, The Toy Association is working to gather showroom information to offer a directory to service vendors and manufacturers proceeding with these plans. A networking event during this time frame is also in development.
“While we recognize for our members that Hong Kong in January is a key time to further refine selections with buyers and work closely with factory partners, it’s our job to serve the needs of our members wherever they choose to do business,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO at The Toy Association. “The best way for us to do this is by keeping the channels of communication open and responding to member needs. We invite companies and buyers to keep sharing information with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Listed below are additional resources to assist in guiding your travel plans and continue to check back for the latest updates.