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‘You don’t need to be a retail giant to grow internationally’

In bleak and wintry conditions such as these, it’s always tempting to look abroad.

Businesses can do the same.

A number of British clothing brands have enjoyed great success overseas, with Boden and Jack Wills among them, and expanding internationally can provide a valuable revenue stream when the climate back home remains tough.

You don’t have to be a retail giant to grow internationally. Yet whatever your size, it’s always worth remembering a few key tips.

First, prioritise your market and stick to it. It’s much better to show successful growth in one new country than scrape the surface in four. In the process you’ll learn plenty of lessons that you can apply elsewhere when the time is right.

Once you’ve landed, be patient: it takes months to understand how consumers shop in different territories.

Working out what products do and don’t work is obviously vital, but you’ll also navigate new payment systems, returns policies, HR issues and unexpected obstacles.

So don’t expect instant returns. It’ll take 12 to 18 months before you begin to establish yourself in an unfamiliar market. But once your foot is firmly in the door, you’ll be glad you made the trip.

  • Libby Gibson, Partner at consumer brands specialist Piper Private Equity

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