Collingwood’s consumer products division have worked for a number of clients supplying to the garden centres and UK ‘DIY sheds’, so it was a great opportunity to catch up with contacts old and new, as well as understand what 2016 has to offer in the garden sector.
From walking around the show I was impressed by the scale, marketing investment and innovation that was on show. Having met a number of key contacts in the past, they have described how the garden sector has been stuck in the past and that they lacked the required skills to move forward and open new opportunities. They have described how they could learn a lot from the food sector on how to category manage as well as build a strong brand story.
From the evidence on show, the sector is taking huge strides to achieving this, with a large retailer buyer presence at the show, as well as passionate and energetic sales teams looking to develop business and build relationships. There were also strong brand stories, celebrity brand ambassadors and marketing pieces to be seen, showing that they are now starting to value the importance of strong marketing message, especially around this very seasonal sector, with such a short window to achieve their sales targets.
From attending this show, as well as others in recent months, there was once more a strong presence from UK Trade and Investment, especially with seminars and support on export. Export continues to offer opportunities to grow businesses further, but it was made clear that a strong business plan and sufficient budget must be set aside to succeed.
Whilst at the show I listened to a seminar led by Joe Denham, the CEO of Vegtrug. He was discussing how he has expanded his own business abroad and the success and struggles that he has had over the years. They have had particular success in America, Australia and Germany, and are now looking to expand into Eastern Europe. He described how the German garden sector was five times the size of the UK, so on paper offered a huge opportunity to them.
Joe Denham gave some of the following recommendations and advice when looking to set up abroad:
- Look into the best international trade shows to attend. (GAFFA and IPM Essen in Germany for example). Don’t expect orders from your first visit, it will often take 3 to 4 visits until you see a healthy return in orders.
- Look into grant opportunities that are on offer and seek as much advice as possible, especially from UKTI.
- Ensure you have a budget set aside to execute your plan. Hotels and flights to visit customers do not come cheap. Ensure you have a strong business plan in place which will result in a strong ROI.
- Look into the cost of getting your product to your new customers. The cost of container shipments will be significantly more. Are you new customers able to take FOB containers, for example?
- Be prepared to put the hours in. When dealing internationally you will be working longer hours due to the time difference, often working until 10pm at night.
Once your business has established abroad, I believe you then need to ensure that you have the people and resources in place to continue to succeed and develop your business abroad further. There are a number of different methods that you could go about this:
- Employ local sales agents in each country
- Sell through distributors
- Set up a local sales office and a new team in each region.
- Recruit a UK-based Export Sales Manager to manage the distributors and/or agents, as well as open up new opportunities themselves.
Collingwood have worked with a number of businesses in the past to headhunt and recruit both export sales managers as well as ‘english speaking locals’ to set up new sales offices.
Through partnering our clients, we have also been able to share local industry intelligence from the insights we gained from our candidate interviews as well as other opportunities that they may not have taken into account.
If you are looking to expand your business and interested in exploring how Collingwood can help you with international executive search then feel free to get in touch on +44 1829 732374.