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.
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.
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.