Endura's China Story

From trading in RMB to grasping the opportunities that exist in the world's second largest economy, Jim McFarlane shares his insight on doing business in China.

It was the frustration of stolen kit before a big race - and the subsequent poor quality replacement – that led Jim McFarlane to found cycle equipment brand Endura. The company is now well on the way to establishing itself as a global name in its niche market.

The company has a strong focus on product innovation and charity work but the export drive is the success the team is most proud of - because, says founder and CEO Jim McFarlane, it required vision, commitment and tenacity.

Endura has enjoyed particular success in the US and EU, selling directly to around 3,000 retailers, supplying them from distribution centres in Indianapolis for the USA and Livingston, Scotland, for the EU.

It is in China, though, that Endura sees real potential for growth. Having initially only looked to China for suppliers the company is now selling into the Chinese market, taking its brand to the country's ever-growing group of middle-class consumers.

"We've been working with China for the best part of 20 years and it's changed beyond recognition in that time," says McFarlane.

It is only the last four years though that McFarlane has seen a change in attitude towards cycling in China where owning a bike used to be a sign of low social status.

"People are now looking at cycling as a leisure pursuit and if they are doing that then they want to have professional equipment and clothing that could be a huge opportunity for us," says McFarlane.

With two decades' experience working with Chinese suppliers, McFarlane has developed a strong understanding of the market - something that should stand the company in good stead.

"Every region has a very different identity and what works in Guangzhou will be no guarantee of success in Dalian. You really do need to approach the market on a regional basis," he explains.

Another key aspect to doing business in China, he says, is that of relationship-building and trust.

"The people we've employed so far have all been through existing relationships. We've spent a lot of time building trust with our suppliers and establishing a network," McFarlane explains.

"The opportunity for UK businesses in China remains huge but it is a difficult market to crack on your own. You do need to find a partner that can help you build the necessary network."

Endura's long-term involvement with China means the company has witnessed the ongoing internationalisation of the renminbi. From paying its suppliers solely in US dollars in the early days, Endura now makes up to 85 per cent of its payments in renminbi.

"We were keen to grasp the opportunity to pay our Chinese suppliers in their own currency, when the RMB began to be liberalised," says McFarlane.

"It's been a smooth process moving over to paying in RMB and it allows us to have a much a clearer view on costs as there is less deviation through other currencies."

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For further information about trading internationally, speak to an HSBC Trade Specialist on:

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Ready to grow your business?

For further information about trading internationally, speak to an HSBC Trade Specialist on:

+44 (0)800 78 31 300

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