British jewellery designers seek to export abroad.
Being British is a hot commodity and while the domestic market is struggling to get back on its feet there are opportunities overseas for watch and jewellery brands, designers and retailers.
Being British has never been so potentially profitable. While the UK domestic retail market has suffered during the recession, in other parts of the world national economies have been growing richer and middle classes have been booming.
Consumers in emerging markets such as China and India are finding themselves with money to spend and rather than buying local, they are seeking out the prestige of big brands and the allure of British-made products and British-name retailers holds serious sway with purchasing decisions.
"There has been an uplift, particularly among American and Japanese buyers, for UK brands with a strong heritage or with a contemporary, urban feel,” says UK Fashion & Textile Association deputy director Paul Alger. “Interestingly, some businesses, particularly those with specialist UK production, have a much larger footprint overseas than they do in the UK."
London jewellery brand and retailer Guy & Max is currently in talks with an investor to expand its business overseas and co-owner Guy Shepherd says that the demand for British jewellery is strong in countries, such as China, that have traditionally thrived on copying British products, not buying them.
“Our manufacturing business collapsed as a result of the Far East but now the irony is they are so wealthy that they recognise nice British, bespoke, handmade design,” says Shepherd. “The super-rich, whether they are in India or China, want something that is unique; they don’t want something that is mass produced.”
Export is big business for a country’s economy and the UK government is keen to encourage British businesses to export, and has set up various regional funding through the UK Trade & Investment body and there are a range of other trade bodies that offer export advice for a fee.
British jewellery and cufflink designer Babette Wasserman has taken advantage of such schemes to help her export her brand by exhibiting at international trade shows.
“We have received on many occasions a great support from British organisations, in order to allow us to be more focused on the marketing strategies and a bit less on the financial side of the project,” says Wasserman. “The British Fashion Council is always undergoing evaluations of our London Development Agency grant to assess the economic impact of funded support, and UK Fashion Exports offers a brilliant support to fashion jewellery brands.”