Leaders November 2015

Warm reception

British firms’ bespoke creations, London–Tokyo pact welcomed

Know your market: an attested component of success in any business.

Yet, according to Noriko Silvester, managing director of Candlewick, it has been a stumbling block for a number of firms that have tried—and failed—to set up in Japan. In our latest Member Spotlight column, BCCJ ACUMEN met Silvester to uncover her market entry tips. Meanwhile, she shared the reason she loves working with mums—and what they can teach their co-workers.

British Fair success

Tailoring to the customer was not a problem for the 100 firms that showed their wares at Hankyu Department Store’s British Fair in Osaka. Keen to build on the success of previous years, Hankyu staff spent a month in the UK looking for items, from tea to accessories to china, which would most likely appeal.

After having been selected, the firms did their homework.

Award-winning fish ’n’ chips shop Frankie’s printed bilingual business cards, which it distributed over the seven-day event.

Drawing on the UK’s long-established tea culture, Simon Smith of tea merchant Ringtons wore period dress and had arranged for the firm’s replica horse and vintage horse van to be shipped from the UK for the first time.

All these efforts paid off. Frankie’s served more than 1,200 portions of fish and chips, and tickets for Ringtons’ 10 tea parties sold out in 12 minutes.

Textile-maker Poppy Treffry created a number of new lines especially for the event, adopting much-loved British icons such as the red double-decker bus.

In a similar move, one of 30 delegates of a British Fashion & Lifestyle Mission Showcase on 4 November told me the firm had modified its logo to better suitthe Japanese market. Following advice from a London brand consultant, who had researched what appeals to Japanese consumers, the logo in question was adapted to include the Union Flag.

BCCJ ACUMEN will be following these firms as they take their first steps into the market.

Making the news

During his October visit to Japan, Mayor of London Boris Johnson made a splash on more than just the street rugby pitch. Primarily promoting London as an investment destination, he pointed out the UK’s strengths in science, technology, innovation, business and world sporting events.

In the spirit of providing advice on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, he gave members of the British and American chambers of commerce in Japan his entertaining take on London 2012.

From his speech to Tokyo Metropolitan Government members—which raised friendly heckles as well as laughter—to his testing of a bicycle scheme in Shibuya, Johnson spoke warmly of the solid relationship between the UK and Japan.

Following the signing of a friendship city agreement between London and Tokyo, the future looks even brighter for cooperation and collaboration between the two cities.