CHINESE, HALLMARK SIGN DEAL

CHINESE, HALLMARK SIGN DEAL

Chinese who care enough to send the very best will find it easier, thanks to a new deal between Hallmark and a local manufacturer of boxes and other packaging.

Starlite Productions Holdings Ltd. was named sole agent for the Kansas City- based company. In addition to its mainstay greeting cards, Hallmark produces calendars, albums and photo frames.All will be made available in China, and with Chinese motifs, from a new plant Starlite will build in the Shenzhen special economic zone just across the border.

"The deal means Starlite will diversify from manufacturing into direct sales," said president and chief executive Kwong-yu Lam.

The firm intends to establish 500 retail points in China over the next 2-1/2 years with its mainland partner, state-owned China Arts & Crafts Import & Export Corp.

The first Hallmark sales outlet was scheduled to open in Beijing this month, followed by others in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu.

Chinese-motif cards will also be sold in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia and in the booming Chinatowns of New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, British Columbia and Toronto.

Those exports apart, "China is a huge market," said Starlite's Casey Tjang. "As its people become more affluent, there will be more use of greeting cards. Hallmark recognizes the enormous potential as much as we do."

Modifications will be made in other than design. "Some humor might be good for North America but might not be appropriate for the Chinese," Mr. Tjang said.