Locating Agents & Distributors operating within Scandinavia and the Netherlands

Question posted by Rory Baxter, on behalf of Conkca London in LA1

Hi,
We are planning to begin exporting our range of leather goods and bags, and are looking closely at Scandinavia and the Netherlands. While our preference is to find stockists directly, we don't want to look over any opportunities with regards to agents or distributors. As such, I was wondering if anyone has any useful starting points to recommend with regards to locating trustworthy agents \ distributors in these countries.
Thanks in advance!

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Mark Walker, on behalf of UKTI London in London.

I work for the UK trade & Investment London team which are setup to offer just this sort of advice, and our service is free to UK registered companies, I would suggest visiting the website to find out who your local trade advisor would be, they can then talk you through the services.
I have personal experience with Scandinavia, and would suggest that you think about the type of distributor/agent you would need, almost create a written profile, this in turn would/could be used by your trade advisor to either find or commission the Scandinavian commercial officers in the British embassies to identify matching local companies etc.
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Richard England, on behalf of Consulting for Export in WD3.

Rory,

It would be interesting to understand your reasoning behind the selection of the markets you have indicated and understand the segment of the market you are aiming at. I am sure this is contained within your business plan or export strategy!

From your website I can see that you have a very exportable product which promotes a high quality appeal and finish. Have you considered selling online? Your quality leather products would do well from an online perspective so it should be considered as an option.

In relation to the markets you have identified - Scandinavia and The Netherlands - the opportunity for your type of product is good despite the competition from imported goods from the Far East. However, have you considered markets like Japan and Korea? Quality British fashion and accessories are very well received there but need promoting as well, so there is a cost implication in terms of establishing the brand.

It is also important to consider the route to market especially if you initially elect to go done the agent route as the protection for agents' rights are legally very tight once the relationship has been established. Many of the established agents will insist on exclusivity, which is understandable for relatively small markets like the ones in Scandinavia.

If you need direct help on the ground I have a few contacts.

Regards,

Richard England

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Donna Whelan, on behalf of UKTI North West in M17.

Hi Rory

There are three methods for finding distributors that are effective and cost nothing.

1. Ask customers for recommendations
2. Look on the websites of manufacturers that sell similar products, complementary but not competing, to see if they list their own distributors.
3. Internet searches for your type of products - you may want to use other language keywords to retrieve the most relevant hits for your searches.

Effective methods that cost money include:

1. Commission the British embassy to look for you, phone to check interest, then set up appointments for you. Go via your UKTI international trade adviser.
2. Approach bilateral chambers of commerce to see if they can offer a service eg British Polish Chamber of Commerce.
3. Hire a consultant to do the research for you, ideally someone who has global knowledge of your industry.

Hope this helps.

Donna

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James O'Sullivan, on behalf of UK Exporters Ltd in BS6.

Hi Rory,

You could also register with the British Exporters Database at www.exportuk.co.uk. A basic entry for all British Exporters is free of charge. We also have a special feature for Agents Wanted which has proved to be a successful tool for many current exporters.

You could also try using the British Exporters News and PR service at www.ukexportnews.co.uk. We're happy to feature trial PR's free of charge.

Kind regards,

James

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Sabine Kauer, on behalf of UK Trade & Investment Sweden in Stockholm, Sweden.

Dear Rory,

please find the answers from Sweden, Denmark and Finland below.

SWEDEN:

The Swedish Association of Agents is a membership organisation, targeting the improvement of international trade for small and medium-sized businesses. Its members are mainly agents, but also suppliers and distributors operating in several different sectors, such as clothing, accessories, shoes and bags etc. Through national and international networks, trade fairs, training, professional activities, lobbying, and membership services, the Association of Agents works to improve the everyday life and profitability of its members.

Association of Agents (Agenturföretagen)
Postal Address: Box 3146, 103 62 Stockholm
Tel: +46 (0) 8 411 00 22
Web: www.agenturforetagen.se/en

DENMARK:

The Danish equivalent to the Swedish Association of Agents is the Association of Commercial Agents. It is a national platform for Commercial Agents in Denmark with more than 60 agents and agencies across Denmark.

Danish Association of Commercial Agents
Address: Børsen, 1217 · Copenhagen
Tel: +45 3374 6000
Web: www.commercialagents.dk

FINLAND:

The Finnish Foreign Trade Agents' Federation is an association of commercial agents, distributors and importers. The commercial agents of this Federation have gained their membership after a thorough examination. They are a valuable marketing force on the Finnish market in raw materials, semi-manufactured goods and investment goods to industry as well as consumer goods to wholesalers and retailers. The great majority of the member companies are small and medium sized.

Finnish Foreign Trade Agent's Federation (FFTAF)
Address: c/o Asianajotoimisto Mäkitalo Rämö Oy, Eteläesplanadi 18, 00130 Helsinki
Tel. +358 (9) 8683 1650
Web: www.agenttiliitto.fi

Kind regards,
Sabine Kauer

UK Trade and Investment Sweden

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