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Polygiene: “In China, language and local market knowledge are key”

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With less than three years in China under its belt, Swedish Polygiene is already market leader in outdoor and has secured two major contracts, with more in the pipeline.

“When you enter a giant market like China, you need a solid business network and plenty of resources,” says Peter Sjösten, Polygiene’s Vice President of Commercial Operation.

With 19 employees, Swedish Polygiene is the market leader in the odor control and Stays Fresh segment, in terms of both technology leadership and brand recognition. In 2017, it was named a “Gasell” company by Swedish business publication Dagens Industri, which identifies the fastest growing companies in Sweden. Polygiene is growing by an average 30 percent a year and is targeting net sales exceeding SEK 400 million by 2022.

Polygiene started working with Business Sweden in Japan and Australia in 2014 – a partnership that generated one of Polygiene’s largest customers in Japan and one of its top customers worldwide in Australia, compression clothing company 2XU. When the time came to launch in China, Sjösten says he did not hesitate to contact Business Sweden.

“Although we have an agent in China, his network does not cover all the segments we’re interested in. We needed to bring in more resources to make sure we were reaching the right people,” he explains.

The first step was a market survey in the sportswear and underwear segments. After identifying close to 200 different brands, Business Sweden made contact and set up meetings. Once three or four meetings per segment were confirmed, Polygiene traveled out to meet the brands.

“To succeed in China, you need the language and local market knowledge. Our team now consists of our Chinese agent, and two Business Sweden employees – one of whom is Swedish, while the other Chinese. Between them, I’m confident we have the network and expertise to grow there,” adds Sjösten.

With textile exports valued at USD 106 billion a year, and a domestic consumer market of apparel, footwear and sportswear that will reach about USD 380 billion in 2017, the Chinese market is expected to become the world’s largest this year.

To date, Polygiene has secured two new accounts on the Chinese market, both within the online home textile market. Polygiene is already established in the Chinese outdoor segment, with leading outdoor company Kailas as one of its partner brands.

“Our focus for Polygiene in China is on the fast-growing online brands –often supported by flagship stores,” says Business Sweden’s Johan Lennefalk in China. “We’re also thrilled that we’ve been able to ensure that the Polygiene brand will now be visible in Adidas’ clothing made in China. Adidas was already a Polygiene customer but they hadn’t been given co-brand status due to challenges in communication, regulations and lack of local presence.”

About Polygiene

Founded in 2006 as a spinoff from Swedish industrial company Perstorp, Polygiene develops and sells permanent odor control and Stays Fresh primarily to premium clothing brands in the textile industry. It also sells antibacterial solutions adapted for use on other types of surfaces. Polygiene’s technology was originally developed in the early 2000s to create antibacterial surfaces for plastic materials and industrial flooring. Polygiene has 19 employees in four countries and a predicted turnover of around SEK 80 million in 2017.

Challenge

The need for Polygiene, a small Swedish company, to target relevant customers across the giant Chinese textile segment.

Solution

Business Sweden supports Polygiene in China to accelerate their sales, mapping potential customer segments and identifying new brands, setting up and taking meetings to understand interest and working continuously to assess and develop the market and generate leads to propel the growth.

Result

Since entering the Chinese market in 2016, Polygiene already has two major new customers, and many more potential deals in the pipeline.

The number

$380 billion: In 2017, approximately USD 380 billion worth of apparel, footwear and sportswear is expected to be sold on the Chinese market.