Georgian Brands on the Domestic and Global Markets
Georgian brands on the domestic and global markets. Products that Georgian entrepreneurs export to international markets, and the chance for gaining popularity among the world’s fashionistas.
Spilow’s Company Director, Sopo Chkhaidze and the Gepherrini Company Founder Ilia Gepheridze discussed these issues for the Business Partner TV Program.
Both Gepherrini and Spilow’s companies have used Enterprise Georgia’s opportunities. As is well known, the state-run program is meant to promote startups. Co-funded under this program, both companies participated in several international exhibitions, and arranged new exports channels, as well. However, shaping a brand and expanding the potential of exports require financial resources, the TV program’s guests noted, and further added that the authorities should invest in brands with export potential.
As noted by Spilow Company Director Sopo Chkhaidze, three friends established the brand 3 years ago with a very small investment, and today the company exports its products to foreign markets. “Several days ago our brand on display with its own stand at the biggest children’s wear exhibition in Florence, Italy. With the support of Enterprise Georgia, we participated in this exhibition during the winter season. We will also visit Paris to participate in the children’s wear trade-exhibition”, Chkhaidze said.
Georgian brands with export potential have asked the authorities to put investments in promising brands and expand access to financial resources, she noted.
Companies should make use of the opportunities that Georgian designers have on international markets, and make Georgian-made clothes sought-after products on exports markets. Huge financial resources are required to gain a foothold on these markets, Chkhaidze pointed out.
“Access to financial resources is the thing that we need most of all. We have obtained a startup business loan. The Enterprise Georgia program has helped us in making progress. A year ago, we participated in an international exhibition and established new contacts. We had small-scale exports to Beirut. Our products were represented on farfit.com in London, too. When entering this sector, you want to achieve more and more. Georgian designers have paved the way, and we are grateful to them that we do not have to start everything from scratch. Our adult clothing offerings are gaining steam, and now we plan to enter the children’s market as well. Clients on the export markets judge children’s wear with a critical perspective, and they want to make sure that you sew very well, and provide high quality and maintain top standards. Therefore, you should satisfy these high standards, to shape a brand and gain confidence, especially in Europe. However, huge demand is recorded in the USA and China, too. We seek financial resources to enter export markets with such huge opportunities, and avoid stagnation. We need financing to make the quantum leap in brand development”, Chkhaidze said.
As for Gepherrini, company founder Ilia Gepheridze noted that the Georgian consumer has changed their conduct. Today, Georgians prefer to buy domestic products, and this is a wonderful trend, he added.
“As for state assistance, they actually try to assist us. Co-funded by Enterprise Georgia, we have participated in four exhibitions, and we have achieved dramatic results. Our store has opened in Hong Kong, but there are a lot of challenges, especially in terms of financial resources. I think the authorities should establish a state institution that would promote brands with export potential.
For instance, the Partnership Fund finances innovative businesses. A similar platform could fund brands with export potential, and this would be excellent, because huge financial resources are required to create a brand, and the process can lead to serious difficulties”, Gepheridze noted.
As it turned out, Georgian products enjoy a certain competitive advantage in relation to the cheapest Chinese products. For instance, Kuwait requested that the sign of the country of origin “Made in Georgia” be visible on the exterior of Gepherrini products.
“Chinese products have gradually lost credibility among consumers who seek products from other countries. Georgia is considered to be a European country, and products labeled as “Made in Georgia” are considered to be manufactured in Europe. Therefore, our hosts in Kuwait asked us to attach the sign “Made in Georgia” on the exterior of our products. And now our products are labeled as “Made in Georgia,” both inside and outside. About 1021 companies were represented at the exhibition in China. A comparison of our wholesale prices showed only a little difference. On the contrary, we even had an advantage, even regarding orders. When we order a specific model to Chinese companies, the minimum quantity is 500 units, while our requirement ranges from 30 to 50, and this is a huge advantage. Our location is also very favorable. Chinese products need 45 days in transportation, and at least 1 month is required for their preparation, while our products are delivered to their destination in 45 days. This is our opportunity, and we should use this opportunity. We just need proper development, and we need funding at a crucial moment”, Gepheridze noted.
Brands with export potential cannot make progress only through standard bank products, and state investments are necessary for rapid development, he noted.
“We need other kinds of assistance, something like the Partnership Fund that would take higher risks. It is very difficult to survive among so many brands, when you go without knowing where and how. The government should also take certain risks, and put funds in startups like us. Even if 20 companies or 100s justify it, we will hire a lot of employees, and improve businesses in Georgia”, Ilia Gepheridze told Business Partner.