By Derek Miller, VP International Business
Earlier this month, representatives from the International Housewares Association and nine IHA member companies expanded their international knowledge with a trade mission to Scandinavia – Stockholm in Sweden and Copenhagen in Denmark. In both cities, the international knowledge program included individual meetings with key home and housewares retailers and distributors as well as group tours and briefings with the US Department of Commerce.
The trip to Stockholm kicked off the week and began with an all-day retail tour of the city. While in Stockholm, the group was invited to visit the US Ambassador’s residence for a breakfast briefing and to meet with the Director General of the US Commercial Service, Mr. Kumar Suresh, who also was visiting Stockholm at the same time. The Stockholm trip continued over the next two days with Retailer appointments and Distributor meetings. The IHA group visited Cervera, one of Sweden’s largest specialty retailers with 77 stores. Cervera is noted as the only housewares retail chain that span across the entire country, think Williams Sonoma. Other retailers that the group had meetings with included department stores Åhlens and NK, mass retailers ICA and City Gross, as well as some specialty retailers.
The International Housewares Association group spent the last three days of the mission in Denmark, visiting and meeting with housewares stores and distributors in Copenhagen. Arriving mid-morning on June 15th, the group immediately began a retail tour to visit the most important home and housewares retailers in the Copenhagen area. The next two days were filled with retailer and distributor appointments. Retailer meetings, from the leading department store, Magasin du Nord, to the leading mass retailer, COOP, to the key specialty retail chains for home and housewares, Kop & Kande, Bahne and Din Isenkraemmer, introduced the group to potential customers in the market. More market information was provided in briefings by the US Commercial Service and a local retail expert, Mr. Henrik Peter Reisby Nielsen of Reisby Consult, who discussed the various retailers in Denmark, presenting tips for approaching and working with them.
Some of the attendees had glowing remarks about the most recent trip and how it will help them in the future.
“Our international business is growing, and HECNA is one of the reasons why. During my second trade mission with HECNA I was able to reconnect with a distributor in Stockholm, and we will now be doing more business together. I also made contacts during this trip that will generate business for us in other countries. I couldn’t ask for more!”
-Jan Murtagh, President, Component Design Northwest
“The Scandinavia Trade Mission was an amazing resource that allowed MadeSmart to get in front of buyers and distributors that would normally be extremely difficult to schedule and all in a couple of days! In addition to this, MadeSmart gained insight on Demark and Sweden through the retail tours and resources made available by the IHA. We were also able to form valuable connections with other IHA members. It was an extremely productive experience!”
-Alexandra de la Riva, Manager, Marketing & Sales, MadeSmart
Profiles of the key retailers and distributors in both Sweden and Denmark are made available to HECNA members in the Export Explorer newsletter over the next few months.
The next IHA trade mission is scheduled for December. The India Retail Trade Mission is to take place in Mumbai on December 5-8, 2011.