“UKTI’s support has put us in a strong position from which to continue to grow our Japanese client base. Knowing that we have them on board is a great bonus.”
Takehiro Ikeda, Senior Designer & Design Strategist at Seymourpowell
Since Seymourpowell was set up in 1984 by Richard Seymour and Dick Powell it has become a leading design and innovation company. Its team of award-winning designers has worked with international brands including Tefal, Dove, Ford and Nokia on products as diverse as a kettles and toasters, toiletries, transportation design and mobile phones.
Today employing 90 people, the company has its own design studio, research centre, materials library and prototyping workshop, all based in London.
Expanding in Japan
Seymourpowell has always had a base of overseas clients, in particular in the Far East, North America and Europe. In 2007, the company commissioned an OMIS from UKTI, with a view to attracting more business from Japan. It provided a list of target clients and asked UKTI to arrange meetings with the relevant contacts within each one.
“For almost 30 years we have worked with most of the major Japanese companies,” says Takehiro Ikeda, Senior Designer & Design Strategist at Seymourpowell. “Without a direct contact, it’s difficult to have an initial conversation. Not only was UKTI able to identify the right person for us to speak to, but as they are trusted and respected, this was considered to be a proper introduction. The meetings that UKTI secured for us resulted in many new projects.”
In November 2012, UKTI Japan together with Shiga University organised an event in Hikone for Japanese SMEs interested in working with overseas design consultancies. Seymourpowell was invited to join and contribute to the creative workshop. Two months later, a well-known luxury Japanese brand that had taken part in the workshop was attending a trade show in London and contacted the company.
A meeting followed, at which Seymourpowell explained how it could help the business to successfully expand into the UK and Europe. Since then, a European brand strategy has been completed and is set to be implemented. With the help of Seymourpowell’s direction, this Japanese client is now in discussions with the UK’s largest distributor for premium lifestyle interiors with a view to launching its products. It is also seeking direct investment for its own UK store.
“The UKTI workshop allowed us to meet the right people in these SMEs, in the right context: we knew that they were there because they were interested in the UK, and we were able to show them our passion for working with Japanese SMEs,” says Take. “UKTI also arranged for excellent media coverage of the event. Documentation used in the workshop showing our name was published on Nikkei business online. UKTI’s support has put us in a strong position from which to continue to grow our Japanese client base. Knowing that we have them on board is a great bonus.”
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