UK golf company Bunker Mentality finds renewed direction and growth opportunities after joining a UK Trade & Investment Trade Mission to Japan.
Nottinghamshire-based Bunker Mentality hopes to increase exports to Japan by up to 30 per cent following relationship-building and crucial knowledge gained on the ground.
The trendy golf clothing and accessories company was set up by Robert Hart and partner Tamasine Green in 2003 to provide “a new dress code for the modern golfer.”
Hart says Japan was a natural export market choice:
“With eight million Japanese golf players, compared with 3.5 million in the UK, and high demand for the latest fashion and British goods, we know that Japan is a strong market for our goods”.
Now in their fifth year of sales to Japan, Hart seized the opportunity to visit the market through a Trade Mission organised by Export to Japan partner Business Link Japan and UKTI East Midlands in December 2013, and encourages other UK companies to do the same.
“It was a fantastic trip – and for anybody trading in Japan who has not visited yet, I’d say go for it.”
“It’s given us a much clearer idea of how the market works and has really helped us develop a stronger relationship with our distribution partner – they were so delighted we made the commitment to visit them in Tokyo and took it as such a big compliment.”
“Following the trip we are going to change our strategy and focus much more on the theme of Great British golf design to feed in to the Japanese interest in the Union Jack and all things British. We now have a clearer idea of how we can grow turnover – and it’s quite clear it’s going to be rapid.”
Japan is the largest market for UK fashion outside the EU and the US. UKTI Japan Senior Trade Adviser Kae Miyazawa says British fashion is well regarded amongst Japanese consumers.
“They appreciate the uniqueness of UK design and admire the heritage of British fashion brands. ‘Made in the UK’ is considered by many in Japan as a sign of authenticity,” she said.
“The value given to the Union Jack cannot be underestimated,” agreed UKTI East Midlands International Trade Specialist Javier Lafuente.
“It is strongly associated with quality, history, creativity, craftsmanship and heritage. The British flag is a major icon in Tokyo, well visible in many places all over the city.”
UKTI organised the week-long programme to give UK companies the opportunity to gain valuable insights into specific market needs as well as foster positive relationships explained Lafuente.
“The visit gave companies like Bunker Mentality the chance to sit and talk to their distributors face to face – which is vital for maintaining relationships, and also gave the delegates the opportunity to network with trade experts from across Japan,” he said.
“UKTI can help your business to understand and adapt to Japan’s establised and sophisticated market,” added Miyazawa. “If your company is ready to be committed and respond, like Bunker Mentality, Japan can be a rewarding market.”
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