13 marzo, 2017
Today we will interview Julio Suarez Garcia, whose role is the European Director, and member of the Board of Directors of the company Saga Furs. But what exactly is Saga Furs? Saga Furs is a Finnish company listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange. It is a fur auction house. Its customers are farmers from all over Europe and the United States and buyers from various markets, of which the main one is the Chinese market. This last is the reason why we interview Julio, and is that despite being a European company, practically all of its market is concentrated in China as Julio tells us. China is its main market. They sell approximately 85 of their skins to that market, they have clients at different levels of the value chain in the Chinese market. From brokers to manufacturers and retailers.
The question we ask is why China and not another Asian country? Or why leave Europe when the skins business also works here? Well Saga Furs with China mainly because the consumption of leather garments is very high. That means that there are large centers of production of garments that have to supply the raw material in auction houses like ours. The main benefit lies in the large size of the market and in the great economic development that the country has undergone in recent years. This development fits well with products such as fur garments, which sell well in expanding economies such as China.
But not all are benefits, China imposes certain barriers especially those who come from the outside. The regulations regarding the establishment of foreign companies in China are very rigid, making it difficult to establish in that country. “Apart from the import tariffs that apply to the skins we sell, the main concern is the risk of changing regulations that may happen from one day to another.” But tariffs and tariffs are not the only barrier, the differences Cultural and the different approaches to “doing business” have also been a challenge that they have had to face by hiring staff from their own country, which in the long run is beneficial, but at first was not so much.
We are also interested in knowing the way in which business affects the fact that they are made in China, because nothing has to do with the way of doing business in Finland, the home of this company,than in China. “The culture is very different. When it comes to doing business, Chinese entrepreneurs seldom say NO. ” Hence the great difficulty faced by Saga Furs in evaluating the success of a business for the commitment acquired in a meeting. That is why until you do not see with your own eyes the final result, success is not guaranteed
We asked Julio about the origins of Saga Furs in China and we were surprised to know that Saga was a pioneer in the world of fashion in China. They made the first western fashion show in the Forbidden City of Beijing in the mid-80’s, a milestone not only in the world of fur, but in general, to get a fashion show in such a place. Then the country has changed a lot. Especially in big cities. Shanghai, Beijing or Shenzhen are big cities that nothing has to envy New York or London. Nevertheless the rural interior of the country continues quite behind in the social evolution.
In China you can perfectly see the two sides of the coin, one day you are in a city full of all kinds of technology and the next day you go through a depressed rural area where they barely have to feed their cattle and thus subside.
But this colossus of fur is not slowed down in China, Saga also has, outside its office in Beijing and Hong Kong, delegation in South Korea, more specifically in Seoul. Korea is a very different market, much closer to the European way of operating since it has followed a much more “westernized” mode of development.
“Saga is continuing its expansion in Asia, and we will continue to expand our presence in China, due not only to the current relevance of the market, but also to the potential that it represents.”
We thank Julio Suarez for his time and dedication in answering our questions, it has been an honor to know more closely a great company like Saga Furs and its operation in the Asian continent.