“Consistent commitment to the Japanese market”

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António Soares is one of the area sales manager of Riopele with the most experience. A specialist in the Asian market, he is currently liable for the approach to the demanding Japanese market which accounts for around 5% of Riopele's exports.

1. How important is the Japanese market for Riopele?

The Japanese market was always very important for Riopele, especially for its strategic positioning. It is a major reference in terms of consumer standards and even in the field of fashion and trends in particular. Riopele has been working with the Japanese market for almost 30 years and around four million euros are made on this market, representing around 5% of our turnover.

2. What competitive arguments does Riopele have on a market as demanding as the Japanese one?

In addition to the quality of its fabrics, which is and always was highly appreciated by the vast majority of our clients in Japan, the fact too that Riopele is working with the main European and North American fashion brands is very important, insofar as it allows our collections to be cutting edge and meet criteria as relevant as modernity, functionality and service.

3. António has already worked on several markets on the Asian continent. What are the main specific aspects of the Japanese market?

They are all very demanding markets, both in terms of the respect for quality, but also as regards service and delivery timeframes. However, trust is the key word to obtain a healthy relationship with Japanese clients. It may take some time and even some work, but once we have struck up a relationship based on trust, everything becomes more straightforward and the relationship is made much easier. One of the main difficulties is obviously the language barrier, a situation which is always circumvented by the valuable collaboration of our agent on the market.

4. From your perspective, is sustainability a trend which is here to stay or an opportunity to distinguish innovative, responsible companies from others?

In my opinion, sustainability is not just a trend or an opportunity to distinguish between companies, it is a necessity. However, and as far as the Japanese market is concerned, we feel that it is not a major priority yet. It is thus important for us to be able to - in conjunction with our partners on the market - promote raising awareness actions with the general public. This theme is unavoidable today and it should be the core concern of companies and clients. In this regard in particular, Riopele is at the cutting edge which is why it may be a reference on the market.

5. How can Riopele’s presence on the market make itself felt?

Our relationship with the Japanese market started out back in the last century. It is a consistent commitment. We regularly visit our clients, we have a local agent and we regularly take part in the “European Textile Fair” in Tokyo (JITAC), which will happen again this year between 4 and 6 October.