Big in Japan
As UK Trade & Investment wraps up another hugely successful 'Export Week' this November, we've been reminded of how truly lucrative the international marketplace can be for large and small companies alike. Events, workshops and trade seminars up and down the Capital showed us that the sky really is the limit when London firms take their goods and services to the world.
Nowhere is this more true than in Japan, particularly in my own area of expertise: the fashion industry. In a trading relationship which has been going for in excess of 400 years, Japan's taste for British, and particularly London, fashion continues to thrive. As early as the turn of the 20th Century, it was British clothing firm John Smedley that provided the then Emperor of Japan, Emperor Taish_, with 365 vests and 365 pairs of finely produced London long-johns in a business deal which revealed both the intimacy and endurance of our trading relationship.
As the third largest economy in the world, with GDP twice that of the UK and GDP per person nine times that of China, Japan remains an Asian powerhouse - with the second highest spend worldwide on research and development, a hunger for new trends and an increasingly globalised outlook.
It is a market which is hungry for British good and services - particularly its textiles and apparel, which has a combined value of £7.3bn. And this demand is for good reason: put simply, British products are in vogue. The universal appeal of Britain's high quality branding, rich textile heritage and the tireless innovation of well-schooled British designers make us an incredibly attractive trading partner.
This is why exports from the UK to Japan are worth £9.6bn a year and 450 British companies have operations there.
And it is with the help of UKTI that many of these companies succeed. Companies such as Meli Melo, a London-based handbag label, have secured big win international trade deals with thanks to the help and support provided by UKTI. The company entered the Japanese market after they participated in a UKTI tradeshow in Japan, met enthusiastic buyers and secured contracts to sell their handbags in retailers across the country.
On each of the trade missions they joined, UKTI provided them with funding and cultural guidance and support. This advice extends to any company looking to sell abroad. The advice that International Trade Advisers like me give to companies such as Meli Melo is often essential to securing deals- from cultural etiquette to business norms.
One piece of advice I often give to firms who are doing business in Japan for the first time is how to accept Japanese business cards. The best way to avoid inadvertent rudeness is to accept it with both hands, politely bow and then place it neatly on the meeting table in front of you. Putting it straight in your back pocket not only means you could forget about it, but you could also offend your Japanese host.
It's not just anecdotal support we offer. We have locally based advisers across the Capital who are always available to introduce you to new markets, help you with market research, enable you to reduce your risks and build a bespoke export plan suited to your business needs.
You too could benefit from this support, whether in Japan or in any of the countries UKTI operates in. We can help to research markets; put you in touch with local Embassies and in-market experts who work locally to find business leads.
So, if this is the kind of support you think you could do with, a good opportunity is just at the end of the telephone. Although Export Week is now over, at UKTI we consider every week to be an Export Week. Contact UKTI to get your product onto the international marketplace.
British fashion is always ahead of game, and so should your export plan. With UKTI's help and support, your business can grow and target those lucrative markets with a high demand for British products such as Japan.
The first step is clear: pick up the phone and call UKTI on +44(0)20 7234 3000 or email email@example.com to speak to one of our excellent trade advisers and begin your exciting journey towards international success.
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