“The support from our local UKTI International Trade Adviser, Alan Fullerton, has been amazing. We would never have come this far without him. JETRO and Business Link Japan have also played key roles in our entry into the Japanese market. “
Mike Ashmead, Managing Director, Cellbond
Cellbond was founded in 1988 by Dr Mike Ashmead, who became involved in the niche market of manufacturing crash test barriers because he was driven by curiosity to meet an inquiry from a UK university. He believes that being “in the right place at the right time” was a big factor in his expansion in this market.
The company arrived in Japan 20 years ago and their products were sold by a representative in Japan. The situation changed earlier in 2014 when Cellbond decided to come into the market directly in order to offer a more extended product range for car safety testing such as crash test dummies.[memb_has_membership memberships=REGISTERED-MEMBER]
Ashmead highly recommends the use of trade organisations and government departments like JETRO and UK Trade & Investment, and business development consultancies like Business Link Japan when planning market entry in Japan.
“Our local UKTI International Trade Adviser was invaluable to us in carrying out market research and development. JETRO also provided an exceptional service – the facilities they offer are superb – and it is through them that we were introduced to Business Link Japan,” he said. “They are helpful even to companies who already know the market,” he added.
“Our next big challenge is expanding the business,” said Ashmead, “we have exciting products which we will introduce to our customers as well as the Barriers they know Cellbond so well for. We are keen to actively promote these and will be focusing on high levels of customer service and technical support. These factors are fundamental to our corporate objectives and our success in Japan where these factors are highly valued and we are excited to be looking to recruit new members of the team in Japan with the right personality as well as experience and capabilities to support this.”
He has plenty of advice for UK companies who wish to enter the Japanese market:
• Make sure you are already relatively well known in your industry and your position in your own market is good.
• Have a support structure in place and people in Japan who can take care of logistics and overcome the language barrier.
• If partnering, make sure to find the right one.
• Show your commitment through regular visits to meet customers and key people.
• Be realistic about the costs and balance your books.
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