How do I locate cosmetics retailers in European Cities? We are based in UK we want to export and sell our cosmetics to other EU countries.

Question posted by Linnie Slaughter, on behalf of Doris Michaels in ME8

Cosmetics market.

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Richard England, on behalf of Consulting for Export in WD3.

Linnie,
I did some work for a company called Elegance Natural Skincare in Wales a few years ago in relation to exporting to the EU and can remember asking them to consider a lot of things before embarking on the project. Apart from the obvious approvals needed for the ingredients used in the composition of the cosmetics, especially if they are "home made" and not "commercially tested" items, there are many other considerations. For example, what target demographic market are you aiming at? What evidence do you have to show how successful the products are in the UK? If these are branded products, do you have the necessary permissions to sell them overseas? Do you have extra capacity to sell internationally? Could these items be sold online instead? Are you aiming at major retailers or at independent stockists, because the routes to market are often different? I could ask a hundred more questions. However, if you are keen to exploit the considerable benefits of expanding your business overseas, please get in touch. Otherwise, there are so many good providers of support, especially the trade advisers at UKTI who can offer some practical advice free to start with so do contact your local office.

Kind regards,

Richard England

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Mike Josypenko, on behalf of The Institute of Export in PE2.

The previous respondent raised some excellent issues, which you may, or may not have considered already.

You didn't mention specific countries in your question, but you might want to bear in mind that the best route to market (ie to retailers) might be through a distributor or sales agent. The route to market may also vary for different countries within Europe.

The previous respondent suggested contacting UK Trade & Investment. That is a good suggestion, but you might also want to contact the trade association for the cosmetics industry, who are likely to have the kind of industry specific knowledge and expertise that UKTI personnel may not have, and may also be able to put you in touch with overseas buyers. The association in question is the Cosmetics, Toiletries & Perfumery Association or CTPA (http://www.ctpa.org.uk/ ). They may ask you to join & pay a subscription, but if you are serious about exporting, it's probably worth the investment. The Institute of Export (www.export.org.uk) also offer courses & training on various topics related to exporting.

If you are serious, you might also think about visiting the big European tradeshow for the cosmetics industry, Cosmoprof in Bologna. A visit won't help you to find buyers, but it will give you good intelligence about the European market, and you might consider exhibiting there if you do go ahead with the project.

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Hi Linnie,

I work for UKTI in Paris and have done work on the cosmetics sector here in France. The cosmetics sector is very successful in France and Paris in particular. If you are looking at selling your products here there are five main distribution channels:
- Specialist chains
- Pharmacies and Chemists
- Large retail stores
- Hair and beauty salons
- Online and mail order

The right type of channel would depend on your products, target clients and what type of partner you are looking for. I would have to ask a few questions about these areas to be able to provide specific information.

On an additional point, there are a couple of areas that you would need to consider if you want to export to France. These would include: language, anti-poison centres, testing, cosmetics regulations, etc.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly should you wish to talk about the French market and distribution channels in more detail. You can contact me through Open to Export or directly at Justine.Barker@fco.gov.uk or +33 (0)1 44 51 33 93.

Kind regards,
Justine Barker

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UKTI Belgium, on behalf of UK Trade & Investment Belgium in Brussels.

Hi Linnie

I am writing from UKTI Brussels and cover the cosmetics sector. The main retailers in Belgium are chains of perfume shops and department stores; there are hardly any independent retailers left. Another route to market is through beauty parlours but they will usually only sell one brand. The department stores might buy direct from a manufacturer but that will depend on the product.
In Belgium there will be a language issue, all information on the product will have to be in both Dutch and French which are the 2 official languages. The use of certain ingredients needs to be approved.

The best route to market is usually through an importer/distributor. Please feel free to contact me if you require further information: email:nadine.vandenbroucke@fco.gov.uk

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Ashley Rogers, on behalf of Gill & Shaw Ltd in LL19.

Hi Linnie,
Fully support the responses so far. Having spent several years working for the Republic of Ireland's Export Development arm (Enterprise Ireland) supporting Consumer Products businesses exporting to mainland Europe - my additional advice would be, based on the basic background checks having been done (through the web / UKTI info) on target market / list key Retailers / how distribution channels seem to work / compliance - and assuming that only a limited budget is available :-

- Visit the market with your info/data to validate what you believe to be true in terms of product fit to market (F&B's / retail price vs. competitors) and how the market is set up - there is no substitute for walking retail. You should have a shopping list of retailers to visit and within that "ideal" retailers were you think your product would fit & add value to that Retailers product offering. To take on your products the Retailer either needs to swop out an existing listing or to add more space to the category, taking it from somewhere else. You need to offer arguments as to why they would want to do that.

- Once you have been to market - then re-evaluate your assumptions versus what you found in market. Adapt your plan/sales pitch accordingly.

- For new market entry, there are various routes to market e.g. agents-distributors-direct- web.....but really key is your new market reference i.e. having your SKU's listed with at least one good retailer in the country. This gives the appearance that you are established in the market, your products have some sale history (helps with sales arguments) and if the retailer is well known, will actually give your brand some extra standing. This gives you experience of servicing a French customer in terms of logistics / ordering patterns / slightly different culture. Let me know if you would like to discuss further.

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David Eales, on behalf of Excel Shipping Limited in Hornchurch.

We are a freight forwader based in Essex and if you need rates moving any products please feel free to contact us.

Kind regards
Dave Eales
Excel Shipping Limited
Tel 01708 515151
www.excelshipping.com

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