Harris Tweed Hebrides follow the ‘Bric’ Road

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SHAWBOST-based Harris Tweed Hebrides are targeting the world’s four fastest-growing economies as part of their marketing strategy of 2011.

The company are working closely with government trade bodies Scottish Development International and UKTI to explore the so-called BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Last week HTH Chairman, Brian Wilson, and Creative Director Mark Hogarth, paid a five-day visit to India, covering Mumbai, Delhi and Chandigarh – capital of Punjab province – where the company’s agent is based.

Mr Wilson said: “Harris Tweed is quite widely available, well-known and highly respected in India. The history goes back a long way.

“We already supply a fair amount via our agent, Bobby Sekhon, and more comes in through fabric distributors.

“However, what we saw convinced us that there is potential for growth,” he continued. “At present the market is among older men and trick will be to extend their awareness of Harris Tweed to the new middle class who are numerous, wealthy and aspirational.”

Mark Hogarth also commented: “India is different from other markets in the sense that bespoke tailoring, rather than off-the-peg, is the dominant business.

“That is how luxury fabrics, including Harris Tweed, are sold and it provides a great foundation to build on.

“Our agent Bobby Sekhon is a huge enthusiast for Harris Tweed. He has been involved in the industry for many years and knows exactly what the market needs. We will work with him over the coming months to develop a growth strategy,” he added.

Harris Tweed Hebrides have also appointed an agent in China for the first time. And they have been invited by SDI/UKTI to take part in promotions of British luxury goods in Sao Paulo and Moscow later this year.

“The UK trade effort is strongly focused on the BRIC countries and we are happy to support that,” said Mr Hogarth.

The company increased production by 50 per cent last year and accounts for over 90 per cent of the industry’s output, exporting to more than 50 countries.

Mr Wilson said: “In addition to the BRIC initiative, we will again focus on the United States, where there are encouraging signs of growth, and also support any events that the Harris Tweed Authority promotes to mark the Centenary of the Orb Trade Mark, because we wouldn’t be here without it.

“We are looking at developing markets from a position of strength and with a long-term approach,” Mr Wilson expanded. “Things are going tremendously well and orders for this year are very encouraging. But the lesson of history is that this is also the time to look ahead and explore new possibilities.”