China International Hardware Show kicks off

This year’s China International Hardware Show kicked off Wednesday in Shanghai, with more exhibitors and greater interest in Chinese DIY consumers and professional builders than ever before.

Exhibitor attendance has risen to well over 2,000 participants this year, with new hardware manufacturers making up the bulk of new attendees, alongside lawn and garden product manufacturers and kitchen and bath companies.

Michael Dreyer, vp-Asia Pacific for Cologne, Germany-based show organizer Koelnmesse, explained that the show has traditionally been strong in the area of power tools and hand tools, but the categories of building hardware, locks and garden tools grew so significantly that they now have their own separate areas. Next year, he said he expects the show to include a separate space for manufacturers of fasteners.

Dreyer also gave some insight into the Chinese DIY market, which is coming into increasing focus as more Chinese citizens own homes and quality of life grows. He said there are some factors holding back the DIY market in China, specifically the cost of labor.

"The fact is that the cost of labor is so low, it's still very economical to hire someone to do a project," he said.

Zhang Dongli, president of the China National Hardware Association, agreed with this assessment. Speaking through a translator, he told HCN that DIY has entered the lexicon of the average Chinese consumer in the past decade, but it has not yet become a strong trend in the market.

"It's early for this to be popular with Chinese people. But the future of DIY will increase as China develops more," he said. Another factor, he added, was the hectic pace of life in much of China -- long work hours and a perception that doing home improvement projects is more work, rather than a hobby, has kept the consumer DIY market from taking off.

The real areas of growth, however, are in building materials, according to Dongli. He estimated that sales of building materials have soared 35 percent in the past five years, while sales of bath and kitchen hardware have risen 20 percent countrywide.

Since the market for home improvement projects in many parts of China is largely "do-it-for-me," pros make up a large portion of home improvement product consumers. And with a great deal of construction going on in large Chinese cities -- particularly Shanghai -- building materials and fixtures are doubly poised to sell well in the future, Dongli said.

The China International Hardware Show will run through Sept. 19 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.

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