Mills in bid to crack £11B Chinese market

Johnstons of Elgin, Hawick Cashmere and Barrie Knitwear are heading to Beijing with hopes of tapping into China’s £11billion luxury fashion market.

The Hawick firms will showcase the town’s excellence in design and innovation alongside 16 other Scottish companies at the 21st China International Clothing and Accessories fair (CHIC) in Beijing next week.

With more than 110,000 visitors from 20 countries worldwide expected to attend the event, the aim is to increase the value of Scottish exports to China by 50 per cent over the next two years.

The inclusion of Scotland’s products and designers has been coordinated by Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise’s international arm.

Fiona Topping, head of Scottish Enterprise’s textiles team, told the Hawick News: “The main point of this exhibition is to educate

Chinese buyers about what Scotland has to offer.

“Hawick manufactures for the some of the biggest brands in the world, and we need to get that message across.

“We’ve seen an increase in interest in Scotland manufacturing and this is a huge opportunity for companies to get more business and get their own brands out there.

She added: “This exhibition provides a wealth of opportunity for growth coming back to the Borders.”

Johnstons of Elgin is also optimistic about possible business opportunities generated by the exhibition.

Brand sales director Ian Pryde said: “The emergence of China as one of the most important consumer markets in the developing world and the growth of a new genre of discerning luxury consumer is fuelling an

increasing demand for our product.”

He added: “We think the CHIC exhibition could act as the springboard to help us achieve our ambitions in China.”

Clive Brown, commercial director at Barrie Knitwear, is also hopeful: “We’re really excited to be participating and we think there are significant opportunities for us in the China market.”

Cathy Black, from Scottish Enterprise, commented: “China’s luxury market is seeing year-on-year growth of 35 per cent and its fashion industry is set to become the world’s second largest by 2020.

“Over the next five years, 30 per cent of growth in the global fashion market is expected to come from China, so there is a massive opportunity for Scottish companies producing high-end, design-led luxury products that will appeal to the style-conscious Chinese consumer.

“From this event alone we’re hoping to generate at least £1 million of additional sales for participating companies. Given the size of the market, this could be the start of something very exciting.”