Case study

Base London: 50% of turnover from exports with UK government help

Market visit and exhibition support has helped footwear company Base London develop its brand in international markets.

Base London footwear

This company was assisted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) , which has since moved to the Department for International Trade (DIT).

UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) help through its Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) and Market Visit Support (MVS) service has enabled Base London to massively boost its exports.

The business can attribute almost 50% of its turnover to income from exports over the last 5 years. Seven years ago, only 5% of their income came from export sales.

2014 was Base London’s best year in the last 7 based on sales.

France, their first export venture, has been their most successful with 275 live active accounts at present.

Their fastest export success story has been taking on the USA and Canada. Sales have grown steadily at 12 to 15% per season over the last 3 years. Sales increased by 300% as a result of their Autumn / Winter 2015 collection, making the USA / Canada as big an export market for the business as France.

Liz Lawley, Brand Manager for Base London stated,

Partnership is a key factor in our export success. We don’t do business in the conventional way.

We go out to the market to meet potential agents and distributors and spend a lot of time with them. Then we’ll decide based on the information gained on a visit whether it’s the right partner for us.

The brand hopes to continue expanding their export success in other markets such as Scandinavia, Russia, Spain and Greece.

Arrange a face to face meeting with an International Trade Adviser (ITA) and find out more about DIT services.

Becoming a heritage brand

Base London built a steady foundation in the UK market over 2 decades through delivery of stylish footwear. The company is headquartered in London, a major global fashion hub.

The brand’s image and ethos have helped them to expand internationally. Certain markets look to British fashion for their English heritage style.

Mark Husted, Sales Director said,

We are a British brand and we have now got 21 years of heritage. We are slowly becoming a new heritage brand.

Export support

The company first started working with UKTI after an introduction from the British Footwear Association (BFA). They were then put in contact with a UKTI International Trade Adviser (ITA) from the London region, with expertise in the fashion sector.

The introduction came at a pivotal time, when the company realised that there was a need to engage in exporting to compliment the solid business they had already secured in the UK.

After consultation they opted to use market visits and trade shows to aid their export journey.

Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP)

Participation in UKTI’s TAP enabled Base London to exhibit at shows such as the MICAM footwear exhibitions in Shanghai and Milan. This led to new sales leads overseas.

The company is still hugely active at trade shows, having discovered it plays an important part in helping them gain new export business.

Exhibiting at the MICAM show in Milan has generated a substantial amount of their foreign business.

Mark Husted commented:

You have to be consistent with your presence at shows and you have to persevere with the results that you expect to get from them, because if you just disappear after one show, buyers won’t take you seriously.

Market Visit Support (MVS) service

Base London has also made use of UKTI’s MVS service.

The company has participated in fashion market visits to Denmark, South Korea and Japan making the most of the opportunity to develop new contacts and research potential export markets.

Mark Husted commented on the importance in getting the most out of market visits saying:

I love the whole idea of market visits. It has been a great advantage to both me and the company.

A lot of the smaller brands that I meet on market visits tend to have this illusion that they are going to get tons of orders, but it’s not about that. It’s about building up contacts and networking, and hoping that something will click and see where you go from there.

Liz Lawley said,

The visits are fantastic.

They’re great value, you’re put in front of exactly the right people and they’ve got all the research. I couldn’t speak highly enough about the service.

UK footwear industry

UK footwear companies export 90% of their production around the world.

According to Oxford Economics, the direct value of the UK fashion industry to the UK economy is £26 billion (up from £21 billion in 2009). It is estimated to support nearly 800,000 jobs.

About Base London

The Base London brand was established in 1995 by owner, David Conibere who has over 40 years of experience in the footwear industry.

Base London was introduced at a time when the male market was faced with only high-end designer or own label products. It aimed to provide the male market with a range of affordable footwear available on the high street.

Fast facts

Company Base London
Industry Fashion
DIT Services Tradeshow Access Programme,
Published 22 December 2015