Innovation - Key to Continued SuccessAs a kitchenware retailer conducting business through mail order, the Internet and 51 retail stores, Lakeland in the UK introduces about 1,500 new items every year and is therefore keen to find innovative products to enrich its selection. The company has sourced mostly from Asia, specifically from Hong Kong, which has been referred to as the "heart of the houseware industry and a city charting the way in design-led products" by director Mr Martin Rayner.
Through the hktdc.com Buyer Meetings service, Mr Rayner successfully collaborated with a number of new suppliers at the HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair.
"After the initial business matching meetings, we were fairly quick in getting those selected products approved and placing orders. For some prototypes, we are still repeating our orders. Indeed, as long as those products meet our averages, we keep selling them - we have winning items which have been sold for over 20 years," notes Mr Rayner.
Lakeland has returned this year to source for a myriad of products spanning kitchenware, storage items, BBQ tools and gardening gadgets, with innovative ideas, new technology and design as important criteria.
Ongoing Matching Success Built on In-depth Understanding"We are back because it is worthwhile to use the service again!We have chosen to meet near1y one third of those pre-screened by the Business Matching team, and we are meeting about 55 companies in four days-about five times as many as last year!" enthuses Mr Rayner.
After talking to just eight suppliers, Mr Rayner has already found many possibilities.
"There are about 11products in which Ihave interest. This year the quality of vendor is very high -most of them are manufacturers with new ideas, so their potentialfor going into our range is strong. Ithink the ongoing success of our business matching programme is due to the in-depth understanding built between TDC and Lakeland," he says.
Mr Rayner is looking ahead to contacting those prospective suppliers, further exploring other inventive items from them, and continuing to the next stages of selecting specific items,pricing and quality approval.
"Of course,we will be back and relying on the service again. And most probably our next stage is to open a stand at the exhibition venue to meet potential suppliers next time, as this will be good exposure for Lakeland too," he concludes.