Coasting into Europe

UK Trade & Investment helped Absolute Distributors with its UK expansion. The Australian company is now fulfilling orders from across the UK and Europe, from its new distribution centre in Southampton.

Established in Australia in 2002 by Ben Mackay, Absolute Distributors Australia Pty Ltd owns and distributes three of the most popular brands in the skate industry today. In less than a decade, Absolute Distributors has established itself across Australia. In May 2011, the company launched in the US, the world’s most competitive surf and skate market. It has seen rapid success working with international retail partners such as Zumiez, Quiksilver, Billabong and Rip Curl.

As European interest grew, Absolute Distributors decided that a regional presence would be beneficial to continue to satisfy orders. In the UK, the popularity of the company’s own plastic skateboard has now inspired competition from 20 imitation brands. The UK offered lower income tax and transportation costs compared to trading in Europe from the US or Australia. The size of the potential local market and the fact that it is English-speaking made the UK the clear choice for a European distribution hub.

In June 2012, Absolute Distributors turned to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) in Brisbane for help with its UK expansion plans. The company was looking for a warehouse that would place them near a vibrant skate market, and provide access to national and international freight and distribution links. With UKTI’s support, it was able to narrow down the choice to Northampton and Southampton. UKTI in the UK joined with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) teams in Southampton and Northampton to help Absolute Distributors organise visits that included viewing properties that matched its logistical and commercial interests. The company was attracted to the skate culture on the South Coast, and felt that, as a port city close to London and several airports, Southampton was a great balance between branding and distribution considerations. With UKTI’s continued support, it was able to finalise the warehouse location, access local legal, accounting and recruitment advice, and source the necessary facilities, from specialised racking for the warehouse to internet and phone lines.

In September 2012, Absolute Distributors started to support all of its European sales exclusively from its new UK base.

“It took less than 10 weeks from when we sat down with UKTI in Brisbane for our UK distribution centre to open for business,” says Luke. “UKTI works effectively and efficiently to provide you with top quality, relevant information. They help you to decide how to proceed, and then provide the support needed to move forward and achieve your goal. We have high expectations for our UK operations and we are grateful to UKTI and both the Southampton and Northampton LEP teams for helping us to achieve such a tremendous result.”

Fast facts

Company: Absolute Distributors Australia Pty Ltd

Country: Australia

Sector: Leisure & Tourism

UK Location: South East/East Midlands


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Sectors: Leisure & Tourism
Countries: Australia
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