With China very much a growth target for international trade, the DIT has stepped up the support available to companies considering entering the market says Vincenzo. “We look to support financially through UK Export Finance, but also through mentoring and guidance. Consulting services and other support services that businesses might need such as IP, finding the right partners and buyers over there, all of the ancillaries that are needed when you tackle a country of that size, are also available.”
“If you’ve got to learn about a market, the first thing to do is get out there,” says Lorne Vary, Financial Director and Business Development Officer for Brompton Bikes, who shares his experience of starting out and growing in China.
Acknowledging that this has been more difficult given the circumstances of the pandemic, online platforms have been key to helping businesses connect and to understand the market opportunities. Lorne’s trip, some 10 years ago, provided the impetus to launch Brompton in the Chinese market. Trading conditions at the time and a need to understand the market better, saw Brompton partner with a local distributor in a joint venture, who they bought out two years ago.
“We were cautious, we needed to take small steps and learn,” says Lorne. “As our confidence grew, our ambition was raised. Once we could own a subsidiary 100%, we finally bought out our JV partner. That’s enabled us to really turn it up, all organic investments are from the parent company, and we could start to build our teams.”
Drawing on his experience, he shares his top tips for succeeding in China:
- Be patient – get the foundations right across product mix, communications, distribution and so on.
- Consider different selling channels – digital, bricks and mortar, franchising.
- Never underestimate the different cultures you’re dealing with. Employing local can really help.
- Create the right structure and communications and evolve them as you learn.
- Empower your team “to learn and make mistakes” because they know the business.