“I understand the desire to conquer markets which are still expanding: there are not many countries with an economy growing by 7% as the Chinese one. But my advice to Italian fashion and design SME who want to get into Asia is to start their operations from Hong Kong and Singapore, then to go into Japan and Korea and only after that they can come to China.” Andrea Bonardi explains that this is the starting point of any consultancy project with Texere, the Company he founded in 2013 and in which he manages a network of advisors. Texere targeted clients are companies with a turnover of 30 million or up with an already well-known brand in Italy and in other European countries and which aim to expand in the Asian markets, considering its appetite of Made in Italy.
“I saw wasting a lot of energy, time and money in companies that, on paper, would have deserved a great success in China and in other countries”, explains Bonardi, who lived in Singapore from 2006 to 2013 where he opened the Asian branch of La Perla and developed a network of more than 60 retail stores of this lingerie luxury brand, both franchising and owned, in Asia and in other emerging markets.
Before La Perla, Bonardi had lived in Mumbai for five years, working as a general secretary of the Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce. “India is the eternal promise of the fashion and luxury market, but for now there are still many obstacles related to the duties, to the local laws and to the lack of infrastructure. For this reason, Texere prefers still to concentrate on Asia.”
Among Texere clients there are Fabiana Filippi and two Italian design companies, Frette and Moroso. “In particular, in China, what is very much growing is the furnishing sector and the Italian companies have enormous opportunities. The important thing is to find the right distribution channel and to develop in parallel, locally, image and brand knowledge”.
This is precisely Texere role: “We are in contact since many years with the major malls, real estate malls, distributors – Bonardi specifies -. We advise companies with a sustainable business plan, with customized commercial strategies for each brand. Then, we work on marketing and on promotion with the aim to propose ourselves to our Asian clients as a local representative of the Italian company and as if we were its local branch”.
Bonardi warns companies against illusions: companies must have already invested a lot in Italy and in Europe to find a retail partner in Asia and in China.“Before proceeding in negotiations, Asian stakeholders systematically ask us if the brand has already mono-brand stores in top locations such as Milan, Paris and London and if, with regards to wholesale distribution, it has a space in La Rinascente (Milan), Printemps (Paris) or Harrods (London). If <no> is the answer, negotiations become very difficult”. According to Texere experience, the fear about Chinese fakes products is real. Consumers are well-disposed to invest and to spend a lot on Italian brands, but they want the maximum guarantee that these products are real Made in Italy.