Bestseller — Facing a New Competitive Landscape in China
(10 pages of text)
In the fall of 1996, Bestseller became one of the first international fashion companies to enter the Chinese retail market. Earlier that year, Allan Warburg and Dan Friis had made contact with the CEO of Bestseller A/S, Troels Holch Povlsen, regarding the prospect of selling Bestseller brands in China, where they felt there were many business opportunities. Holch Povlsen found himself convinced by the two entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm for the Chinese market.
They quickly proved that they had been right about China. A decade after the first store opened, Bestseller China had almost 2,000 stores, and accounted for more than one-third of the total turnover of Bestseller A/S. The secret to Bestseller China’s extraordinary success was its ability to sell price-competitive European designs with a Chinese touch, which was achieved by locating all production in China and modifying Bestseller A/S’s designs to suit the size and tastes of Chinese middle-class consumers. With a 10-year headstart over potential competitors, Bestseller China had by the end of 2007 managed to establish a strong presence in China. However, high economic growth and the growing middle class were making the Chinese market highly attractive for other companies. Although global giants, such as Zara and H&M, were devoting big chunks of their budgets to entering China and capturing market share, these aggressive new entrants were not Bestseller China’s biggest concern. In fact, the competition from local companies was seen as the real threat.
Although the case can be used for a broad range of subjects, the international dimension remains central as the case focuses on a Danish company entering a Chinese market. Marketing and strategy topics such as how a foreign company should successfully enter the Chinese market and how it should market itself are key to the case. Moreover, topics relating to international management are relevant. Discussions could include the challenges of a Danish company operating a very big Chinese subsidiary or the operation of franchising versus owning stores.
China, Large, 2007
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