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7 March, 2006 - 17:37 By Staff Reporter

Laurel building a grape haul of China

Laurel International, with the help of UK Trade & Investment, is investigating the Chinese market for fine wine – with an educational twist.Laurel International, with the help of UK Trade & Investment, is investigating the Chinese market for fine wine – with an educational twist. It plans to distribute information leaflets along with quality wines to educate the Chinese market.

The company, based in Norwich, has used UKTI services for advice, travel overseas, market research, producing literature and developing a website.

Laurel has also benefited from advice given by commercial officers based at the British Embassies in Shanghai and Beijing.

Laurel’s managing director Tak Man-Li and overseas director Tony Wang enrolled on the Passport to Export Scheme and Export Marketing Research Scheme after attending a UKTI trade fair on doing business in China held in Norfolk last year.

With the help of UKTI funding, the team’s first trip to Shanghai was in October on China’s National Day – a perfect opportunity to research into how people celebrate.

During another trip to China they visited an exhibition on Asian food where they met British Embassy commercial officer Tim Stanbrook who provided useful leads.

Tony Wang said:“Initially we investigated importing sports equipment from China to the UK, but realised our competitors were too strong. So we turned this around and started looking into what we could export to China instead.

“In China, the market for high level wines is small, but for medium quality wines it is vast. Our value-added is that this will be ‘knowledge-based wine’.

“We will design the labelling to teach people how to appreciate quality wine.

“The Passport to Export scheme includes a two-day course which advised us how to organise the company, how to do market research and what our next steps should be. We have been to Shanghai three times with the help of UKTI.

“Our international trade adviser (ITA), John Rimmer, told us what we needed to do next, taught us how to organise market research, how to set up a website and produce literature.

“He has supported us every step of the way. We are not experienced in international trade so we are grateful for his advice.”

John Rimmer, ITA for East of England International – Norfolk added: “Laurel International enrolled in the Passport to Export scheme and Export Market Research Scheme, which are helping them research how wine is distributed in shops and restaurants. Some of these restaurants have 3,000 seats so the potential is huge. We have been looking for partners and talking to rice wine distributors.

“On top of investigating distribution networks, we have also been researching how wine is consumed in China.

“People there are drinking vast quantities of low quality wine. Laurel plans to distribute quality wines from different parts of the world, using sophisticated marketing materials, educational leaflets and a website.”

Laurel International’s next step will be to apply to UKTI’s Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS). This provides links to distributors and offers market research for little cost.

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