Reflections on the British Nursery Sector and Latin America

I was delighted to attend the Baby Show for Trade in London this year – one of the top trade shows for the nursery industry. My personal highlight was visiting the Silver Cross stand – Silver Cross is no doubt an iconic brand in Britain, and I am committed to taking this superbrand to Latin America! (see case study).

In terms of imports, it was encouraging to see that hard-working UK distributors bring us some of the best products and brands from across the world. So clearly we have considerable international trade expertise. The products on display were in no way insular – they were all products with global potential that would appeal to parents across the world, Latin America being no exception. The quality of the products was amazing, and the presentation/packaging/branding was generally very impressive, too. The passion behind these businesses was contagious.

The number of businesses present at the event and currently exporting is huge – I struggled to find one that hadn’t sold abroad yet, even if reactively or even if pretty close to home. This is encouraging. I admire them for that.

Regarding Latin America, very few exhibitors were exporting, although many had considered it, particularly after being approached by a distributor at a trade show (mainly Kind und Jugend in Cologne earlier this year). However, they often said “I remember someone from Latin America approaching us with great interest but we then sent them an email and never heard back”. It was not uncommon either to hear that “I got approached by someone from Latin America, but I didn’t know much about their markets and I didn’t know if I could trust them, so I just left it”.

Two points here again: trust and market knowledge. Two things that take time and expertise. Cultural differences are also clear – expecting a prompt email back from a distributor in Latin America, however much interested in your product, might be one very high expectation to have… I speak and live their language – and, believe me, I am highly persistent – but it still takes me months to move things forward, and it requires almost a daily commitment. However, those businesses in the sector that do their homework and take their time – and take Latin American markets seriously, not just like add-ons – can benefit hugely – and make some parents abroad very, very happy, too!