West country brands – China export opportunities

A delegation for ‘new to China’ companies was organised by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) South West and the China Britain Business Council (CBBC).

Organiser and UKTI China Business Adviser, Antonaneta Becker, said,

This is the first time any UK region has taken a delegation to take part in the Great British Brands Festival because previous events in Beijing have only been open to companies already operating in the Chinese market.

Bristol is a sister city of Guangzhou and we continuously seek to capitalise on the business links and cultural affinity that exists between the regions.

The feedback the businesses got from potential Chinese customers was superb. It has given them confidence to apply for certificates to export to China.

Thousands of Chinese consumers were introduced to some of the South West’s finest products at one of China’s biggest British fairs. Sheppy’s Cider has already reaped the first rewards from attending the show with an initial order from a distributor. Other orders have already started to come in.

Mel Timmins, Sales Manager at Sheppy’s said:

The mission to China was amazing. We found a partner who is developing a market for cider and is specialising in British brands and as soon as we got back we received his order for a pallet.

Top tips for establishing your brand in China

The basic rules for establishing a brand in any market also apply in China. You need to ask yourself if Chinese consumers desire your product. Taste and likes vary immensely from Beijing to Guangzhou, and Shanghai to Chengdu. Changing attitudes and aspirations in China mean that you must keep up-to-date with the needs of the Chinese consumer.

When preparing to enter the Chinese market you should:

  • research the market and potential client base
  • make sure you understand the local heritage and culture
  • find local partners and talent who understand the customers
  • emphasize the provenance and premium quality of your product

UK companies at GREAT British brands Festival

The Great British Brands Festival featured 60 large and small companies taking their first steps in the world’s biggest market. It showcased UK brands in the following sectors:

  • automotive
  • food and drink
  • fashion
  • homeware
  • children and baby care products

Southwest companies who took part included:

  • Chelston Manor
  • Coombe Castle
  • Sheppy’s Cider
  • Thatcher’s Cider
  • Yeo Valley Dairy

Feedback from UK companies

Sheppy’s sales manager, Mel Timmins, said:

It was a great way to meet potential partners and customers and gauge their reaction to our product. Cider is still a new market but the Chinese seem to like it and hopefully we can expand the market for our quality products in the next few years.

Dennis Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chelston Manor Speciality Fine Food Company, said:

Our participation on the recent trade mission to China was both informative and beneficial, and has helped us to secure excellent prospects for future export trade to the Far East.

The hard work for the company starts now we have returned to the UK, connecting and building long term relationships with like-minded Chinese business partners.

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