Trading fairly overseas
Piccalilly Ltd was established in 2006 by Hannah Evans, who embraced the opportunity to bring a fresh new approach to Fairtrade and organic cotton based clothing. Based in Settle in the Yorkshire Dales, Piccalilly manufactures and sells organic Fairtrade baby and children’s clothes. Just five years on Piccalilly has five employees, partnership with a factory in India, products stocked in over 300 independent shops in 30 countries and export sales accounting for 65% of all sales.
Hannah has embraced opportunities as they have come her way, and used the support offered by UKTI to develop an incredibly successful business. However she stays true to what is called “The Piccalilly Way”, and has maintained a transparent supply chain and brand identity despite the phenomenal growth of the business.
Export sales happened to Piccalilly rather than because of any planned strategy. Hannah feels that the website layout and the simple ordering process helped the international orders flow in without adopting any targeted marketing activities. The support of UKTI was needed when it almost became too much to handle and Piccalilly needed a strategy to safeguard the brand and direct the company going forward.
“Sales were coming in all over the place – enquiries from Israel, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, US, Europe at the same time, which was brilliant. It occurred to me Piccalilly could service the whole world if the right logistics were in place. However I had a niggling feeling … as everything was quite unplanned and orders just came to us there seemed to be little control over how big it might get or how long it would last for.”
Passport to Export helped Hannah see other ways of doing things and she now describes how she started to “get it”, realise she could do it, and could manage it herself. One of the most important things that resulted from the and the support from International Trade Adviser Peter Tweddle were grants and support to develop the Piccalilly website.
Key areas that Piccalilly focussed on were: Language – With an English-only website, there were some language barriers when customers made enquiries;
Logistics – Customers must be serviced cost-effectively wherever they are, and the process had to be as easy as possible for customers and the business and Marketing – Services need to be tailored to a market without compromising the integrity of the brand.
As the transparent supply chain was vital to the “Piccalilly Way” and customers needed to be sure of its authenticity, Hannah used a TESS grant to visit Kolkata in India and photograph the factory and the cotton farmers. As the majority of international customers and enquiries came to Piccalilly via the website, the visual impact of the photography was huge. Through the , a photographic exhibition was also launched at the Fairtrade Organic Exhibition.
Industry: Fashion & Retail
In addition, strategy advice and workshops also encouraged Hannah to develop the online order process and general “internationalisation of the website”, which began life as an off-the-shelf template. The workshops also provided very practical information and advice to manage agents and distributors overseas. After a relationship with an agent in Sweden didn’t progress as well as it had been expected, the audit forms, management discussions and shared experiences Hannah received from the workshops resulted in a much more realistic, planned approach with agents, which has encouraged Hannah to develop her network of agents as the business continues to grow.
UKTI offered Piccalilly much more than funding and expertise however. As a small, primarily online business Hannah describes it as very isolating sometimes. The network of business support, through the programme of workshops and events were just what Hannah needed to meet with other likeminded businesses and listen to how they make things work.
“UKTI is a constant source of advice and support as our business is growing. It is great to be part of a network and community of experienced people who can help guide us in the right direction. Through UKTI we have participated in some great events and had the opportunity to network with inspirational business people as well as network with businesses going through similar experience in export.”
If you are based in the Yorkshire and Humber region and are interested in developing your business overseas please contact:
Tel: 0300 365 1000
Countries: Yorkshire and Humberside
Topics: Operations and Transport & Logistics