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Markets that are easier to crack than China

Cracking China remains challenging but India, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are all exciting emerging markets for British brands, experts said at Drapers Fashion Forum.

Damian Hopkins, CEO of Select Licensing, John Scott, international director of TM Lewin, Angela Farrugia, group managing director of Global Brands and Emmanuel Eribo, CEO of footwear brand Butterfly Twists, discussed their approach to overseas expansion.

Farrugia urged fashion retailers to consider starting in the trend-driven South Korean market before tackling larger Asian territories: “China is a huge discussion for many retailers and brands. The first thing to think about is whether your brand will be desirable in that market.

“The second thing to consider is how culturally aligned and relevant you are to that marketplace. China is now producing its own brands, which are cool in their own right. But if China is your nirvana, one interesting thing to note is that the market loves brands that are successful in South Korea. Start in South Korea – it is less of a wild west experience and can be a great learning curve.”

TM Lewin’s Scott agreed that breaking into the large Chinese market requires careful planning and investment: “I don’t know many retailers who have cracked margins when it comes to working in China. There’s the cost of working with Tmall, and the level of marketing spend you need to get the brand out there.

“It is daunting. You have to be been in it for the long term and have the ability to invest heavily without making money for the first couple of years. For me, there are easier ways to make money than trying to work in China.

“India is easier to work in than China and is a really exciting emerging market. Mexico and Latin American haven’t had a huge move in from British brands. Canada is very difficult to get into, but if you can, you should.”


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