British teddy bears into Japan

Question posted by Michael Dankwah, on behalf of Grin & Bear in SW9

My name is Michael and I live in London. I have a company that creates teddy bears. All the bears are individually handmade and are a unique take on the traditional bear.
I have had some interest in my bears from Japan / South Korea and im really keen to introducing my bears into that market but at the moment I am stuck as to how to start making contacts with retailers in those countries. Any help would be greatly appreciated. You can have a look at the bears on

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Paul Buckingham, on behalf of ICPR 1200 Limited in CT11.

Hello Michael,

My company is an international business development consultancy with partners in 50 countries around the world. Our purpose is to help businesses enter new markets.

One of my key specialty markets is Japan, where I personally lived and worked for some 16 years, and where I maintain good partners for developing routes to market.

I can tell you that what you don't need, is contact with retailers in Japan, and what you do need is a good distributor with contacts to retailers, so they can handle those processes for you. Without trying to make a pun, you have to also bear in mind that as your products are handmade, we need to consider capacity.

The service I can offer is to test our routes to market, to gain an understanding of interest, and this can be undertaken at no cost to you.

We are quite happy to work on a project like this on the basis of commission (i.e. we only earn if we sell), and we keep our commission at sensible levels, so you keep a good margin.

Feel free to contact me to discuss further at:

All the best.

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Uche Akali, on behalf of Hallmark Solicitors in HU1.

Michael Dankwa

I have had a look at the bears and they are incredibly pretty. Very well done indeed.

One possible way of testing those markets would be to sell online on a retail basis into those markets to ensure that there will be a strong enough demand to justify further entry costs. We could assist with this in terms of your T&Cs etc and guide you through the regulatory maze. Once you are satisfied that there is a strong enough demand then the next step would be to source distributors in those territories. Again we can assist in that regard.

Further, as a business growth specialist, I would also suggest that you may wish to test the market in the same manner for countries in the Middle East such as Saudi, UAE, and Qatar as the increase in cost for doing so may not be exponential to the possible benefit to derived.

Do let me know if this something you would wish explore in further detail.

Uche Akali
Hallmark Solicitors
08456 808 251

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Hi Michael,
I had a look at the site. Very nice product idea. Well done.
My thoughts..
1) They look like they may command a higher retail price on the International market.
2) I agree totally with Pauls comments on finding a good distributor rather than specific retailers
3) If not already done so, find a UK retailer you can trust and work with. It's an incredible learning before you venture into International markets.
4) Include Chinain your Asian markets. Huge...
5) More use of small/subtle Union Jack flags on your site. British brands and products are well respected and your product fits a British 'quaintness'

All the very best,

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Michael Dankwah, on behalf of Grin & Bear in SW9.

Thanks for all the responses so far. I'll be in touch shortly.
Stephen thanks for the suggestions as well. At the moment I have a couple of stockist in London and a retailer in South Korean as well. I will keep the ideas for the website in mind as I'm having a revamp in a couple of weeks.

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Hi Michael
Great Bears . These have got to be great to sell !
You have had good advice already.
Paul Buckingham is right that for countries like Japan,Korea, and China its better to find a distributor selling into the channels which suit your products . They are such a distance away, so it tends to be easier to deal with one company who can deal with the whole of that market for you. Though you need to then understand the effect of the extra margin on the final consumer prices.
On the other hand there are big markets in EU right on your doorstep. Here you could decide either to deal with a big retail chain directly or once again dealing with a distributor.
Yes there is a cache about British products , so you should promote that side more with Union Jack labels on the Bears and colours on the website as Steve says.
Might I also suggest trade shows -- there is a Meet the Manufacturer show on 11th & 12th June supported by or the ToyFair in Birmingham NEC 22nd Sept, and both Frankfurt Ambiente or Nurnberg Toy Shows in January.
If you want to discuss further on pricing strategies or anything specifically on Spanish or Italian speaking markets , don't hesitate to contact me .

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Don't forget to take all the costs into account when setting your prices.
For example - there will be either 3.9% import duty or 3.4% import duty into Japan depending on the fabric that the bear is made from. Toys representing animals - stuffed Tariff code 950300311 Textile woven fabrics or plastics qualify for 3.9%. Tariff code 950300319 other fabrics 3.4%.

There is also a consumption tax of 8% which is charged on the duty paid value of the imported items.

There are also rules regarding the composition, manufacture and labelling of toys. Complying with those rules may add costs to your manufacturing process.

Take a look at the Open to Export webinar that I gave on export pricing for more details.
You can find it on this website.

Always protect yourself by including an INCOterm in your contract. INCOterms clarify who is responsible for which activities during the delivery and who is paying for which activities.

For further information and training feel free to take a look at my website below.


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Open to Export, on behalf of Open to Export in London.

Hi Micheal

Thank you for your question.

You may wish to speak with UKTI, who provide a range of support services for UK businesses looking to enter international markets. UKTI has employees in post in both Japan & South Korea who will be able to handhold you through the market entry process:

You may also wish to take a look at our Export Bootcamp feature, which will take you through the entire export journey in four bite sized webinars. You can view the entire webinar series on our YouTube channel:

I will now close this discussion, however you can contact me via email should you require any further support -

Kind regards

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Hi Michael

Great to speak with you earlier;

I have some great ideas for you to break into this market and can assist you in contacting some of the companies and retail buyers that you require.

As requested, here is my business mobile number 07737828892 and I look forward to discussing the above in further detail.

Kind Regards

Kaye Harris-John
Wolfestone Translation

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