Richard Foxall, International Trade Adviser for fashion at UK Trade & Investment London
UKTI London

Member Article

London fashion companies look to Sweden for exporting

Richard Foxall is an International Trade Adviser for the fashion sector at UK Trade & Investment London. With more than 25 years’ commercial retail experience, he supports UK companies in the fashion industry looking to expand their business aboard. Below he tells the story of a recent successful trade mission to Sweden.

In October, I took nine British menswear companies to Sweden for a successful fashion mission hosted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Sweden. It was our first menswear market mission to the country, the export opportunity having been identified by Negar Sabaghzadeh, one of the UKTI’s Trade Advisers based at the British Embassy in Stockholm.

Sweden is known as a country that punches above its weight in terms of economy and trade. With only 0.2% of the world population, the country accounts for almost 2% of total world trade. Its geographical location underpins its position as a natural hub for business in the Nordics, Baltic area and Russia. All these factors mean that the country offers a unique opportunity for UK businesses looking to expand their business abroad.

In the past, many UK menswear companies had been unsuccessful in arranging their own meetings when approaching Swedish buyers directly so the aim of this event was to provide companies with the opportunity to meet buyers face-to-face, to showcase their merchandise directly and to raise brand awareness in a new market.

With two London menswear companies, Gieves & Hawkes and Turnbull & Asser, on board, we were able to reach out to Swedish buyers and some of the major retailers, including department stores and independent shops to secure attendees. This generated further interest with other British companies and allowed us to curate a portfolio of participating brands which could be matched to relevant buyers in the Swedish market.

In the end, we had a great selection of companies which attended the mission including Gieves & Hawkes; Turnbull & Asser; Drake’s London; Sanders & Sanders Shoes; Johnstons Cashmere; Tom Smarte Hats; Alice Made This; Simon Carter and Marcus De Shoes. In total, nine high-end retail UK menswear companies and 34 Swedish buyers attended.

Ahead of the mission, UKTI London provided the attendees with a pre-mission briefing to offer advice on doing business in Sweden – this is important, business cultures differ from country to country so it’s crucial that companies feel comfortable before embarking into new markets. We offered support on regulatory issues, VAT, in addition to advice and tips on Swedish business culture.

The event itself took place at the residence of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Sweden, Mr. David Cairns, where the retailers presented their products to attendees. Buyers arrived for short afternoon appointments – which is usual practice in Sweden, where business is done quickly and efficiently.

A further networking reception was held later that day, with attendees from UKTI Sweden and the British Swedish Chamber of Commerce, in addition to media and bloggers from the fashion industry who were keen to report on this unique event. Using the hashtag #UKTILdnFashion, we were able to generate lots of social chatter on the day – to take a look on Twitter and Instagram to see some of the photos from the event, in addition to other trade missions we have organised. Most importantly however, many of the UK businesses were able to meet Swedish buyers for the first time, helping to establish relationships which will hopefully led to successful partnerships.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by UKTI London .

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