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!
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.
The UK Trade & Investment organisation is a joint venture between The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) staff are experts in Helping Your Business Grow Internationally. We provide expert trade advice and practical support to UK-based companies wishing to grow their business overseas. With 2,400 staff and a presence in 96 countries, UKTI can assist you on every step of the exporting journey. Whatever stage of development your business is at, we can give you the support that you need to expand and prosper.
Through a range of unique free and government subsidised services, including participation at selected trade fairs, outward missions and providing bespoke market intelligence, we can help you crack foreign markets and get to grips quickly with overseas regulations and business practice.
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.
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.