Making Moves - Brazil and South America PART 1
After a little over a year of organisation and negotiation the scene was finally set to get back on another couple of planes, eat as little airplane food as possible, drink gin (and sometimes tonic) and watch re-runs of films that flopped at the cinema all whilst heading over to the cultural capital of the South American continent - Brazil. The mission, to spend some time with our new partners in the territory - ES Trading, check out the retail landscape and tie up the loose ends that will see King Apparel expand in not only Brazil but also the entire South American continent.
The ES Trading team have their shit together. License holders across South America for Starter, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream amongst others, they also hold the rights for Mishka and Mitchell and Ness. Suffice to say, we are in good company.
After almost 24 hours of travelling i touched down in the commercial and industrial capital, Sao Paulo. This sprawling metropolis of over 20million people was everything i had heard and read about. A beautiful, tropical set utopia in one breath, a polluted, gritty, concrete jungle in another.
The notion that Brazil's cities can be dangerous places is not that far from the truth. Many districts are not particularly safe to walk around on your own after dark, most people don't stop at red lights past 10pm due to potential car jackings and you have to have your wits about you at all times. Fortunately i was based in the residential suburb of Alphaville, so a trip to the local supermarket to buy World Cup themed Haribo went without incident…lucky cos all i had was football shaped sweets to bargain with…
Eduardo, the head honcho at ES is an Alphaville resident, so before getting down to business the next day we of course went to a bar and plied ourselves with local Caipirinhas. Drinking straight own brand Meths from B&Q is probably a less alcoholic experience.
The ES trading HQ is based in Osasco. Spread over two floors, one is a huge showroom for their portfolio of brands and the second the office hub of the operation. These guys have a wealth of experience in their team including being former CEO's of Nike, former brand managers at Adidas, former major players at MTV…the list goes on.
The team were incredible hosts and their knowledge not only of their industry but of the economical, historical and political climate in Brazil was first class. In this day and age its possible to do international business via email, Skype and on the phone, but there is no substitute for actually visiting new countries and being given that first hand experience by those in the know. You cannot begin to understand how to infiltrate and become successful in a new market without living and breathing it for yourself.
Our itinerary for my 3 day stay was packed solid. Presentations of the brand were made, free shit was given out, we watched Brazil thrash Panama, i explained in detail how England would hand out a severe beating to them during the World Cup…obviously, i was treated to traditional Brazilian lunches and we talked some serious turkey.
However, the most eye opening experience was the tour of Sao Paulo and the retail stores that made up the city - 15 hours of driving, walking, touring, looking for a Brazilian BBQ joint and laughing. All in part 2.