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Chris Barfe and team at the IBA Munich exhibtion

bagging the russian bread slicing market

How the EMRS helped us succeed

Our bread slicing and bagging equipment sales have always been mainly UK based, with sporadic sales in Russia handled by an agent distributor since the 1990s. When our CEO Chris Barfe took over the business in 2009 he was keen to explore the international market further, with such specialised pieces of equipment the aim was to spread the net wider and offer our great machinery to bakeries all over the world. Our Russian agent branched out on his own leaving us with no distributor in Russia so Chris set out to try and restore our position in Russia and contemplated setting up a Moscow office or instating a new distributor.

Export Marketing Research Scheme
Purely by chance a conversation with the Institute of Manufacturing put Chris onto the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS) ‑ a UKTI scheme that provides advice and funding for businesses trying to break into overseas markets, giving valuable insights into the dynamics of overseas business and offers advice when targeting foreign markets.
UKTI Research advisor for the Eastern Region, Julie Macken, was on hand with knowledgeable advice from EMRS, rather than opting for a new Russian distributor, Chris decided to explore a new avenue ‑ the first step was to determine the best products for the market and the optimum prices. After doing a fair amount research into the market in Russia and armed with the invaluable insights from Julie Macken, he produced a formally structured interview sheets and a highly efficient itinery.

Invaluable insights
Chris visited Moscow, taking 11 days to talk to many people including potential clients and customers; learning about the possible market in Russia for our bread slicing and bagging equipment. He visited bread manufacturers, import and export companies as well as potential agents and the press.

The whole experience gave him vital information about the bakery and food manufacturing industry in Russia and also helped to meet who would be key players in our Russian success. The experience revealed the small scale industries that were operating in Russia, the smaller businesses did not require such large fast machines that we were currently producing ‑ this resulted in designing and building more appropriate sized machines for slicing and bagging the bread products.

Many positives came out of the Russian trip; it was evident that our pricing structure was competitive putting us in a strong position for negotiations. It also quickly became apparent that employing a Russian agent with existing relationships with the bakeries would be highly beneficial to creating strong relationships with the Russian bakery trade, rather than setting up a subsidiary agent. The choice of agents to use was an easy one for us as they stood out from the rest with excellent relationships with the bakeries and were also English speaking.

The EMRS put us in a fantastic position ‑ giving us assistance with the preparation to really glean the maximum of information from the Russian trip ‑ the right places to look for information and to put all the data together to come up with a strategy that has helped us to reap rewards and to actually put us in a better position than when relying on our previous distributor.

We owe a great deal of thanks to EMRS and we have written this case study that it may help other businesses to make their mark in overseas markets. The experience and expertise ensured that the whole endeavour was an absolute success.

Click here to read the original article on the UKTI website

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