The internationalisation of the firm
- An adapted case study
By Tomas Sylverberg
Background and History
Bukowski Design manufactures and sells teddy bears all over the world. It has five employees in Sweden, however, when the firm needs more workers, then they are hired by the hour. Usually this occurs when the firm has special promotion tours or visits trade fairs. Globally, the firm employs more than a thousand people. The firm started its activities by selling office material to Kooperativa Förbundet, Bokea and other big firms in Sweden. The products the firm sold were diaries, pencils, pencil cases, notebooks, etc. Then the firm most of the products were designed by other designers but the firm also designed some products. Most of the products were bought from Asian countries, such as Korea, Taiwan, and China.
The current product was invented by a coincidence, the two first teddy bears were made for the CEO's sons when they were born. The CEO says that she always wanted to sell this kind of products, but thought that the firm should stick to its known products and customers, instead of investing in high-risk projects. She then made seven prototype teddy bears. She went to Poland, bought material, and found a small factory that made the teddy bears professionally. The teddy bears were shown at the Formex Trade Fair 8 in 1989, together with the firms’ office products. This Trade Fair gave a first indication that the product could become a best-seller. Instead of getting orders for its established products, everybody started to order teddy bears. The CEO means that this was quite a surprise, as these teddy bears that were like most of the teddy bears in the present collection, with an old look that resembles English teddy bears. At that time, the teddy bears that were sold in Sweden were more elaborate, while her teddy bears had a rougher look, which made them unique in the market segment.
The success at the Trade Fair made the firm return for the next one held six months later. The firm were still mainly known for their office products and the teddy bears were not a priority. However, during the first morning, the teddy bears alone paid the rent for the firm's stand for the whole trade fair. Since the demand was so high, the CEO created thirty models for the next trade fair, and from that point the product range has expanded and the office supplies were discarded. The firm now divides the year into two seasons, for each of the seasons about hundred new models are presented. The products range from mini teddy bears, to huge teddy bears. Also some innovations have been made, figures for different occasions such as Christmas have successfully been included in the product range. All the firm's products, even the smallest teddy bear (about 2 cm high) can move all of its limbs. The Trade Fair is in Stockholm, and it has two shows each year
The first country in which the firm sold teddy bears was Sweden. About two years after introducing the teddy bears in Sweden, the teddy bears were so popular that the firm started to think about expanding to other markets. The first market that was chosen was Norway, the reason was that the CEO thought that Norway is a is very similar country to Sweden when it comes to taste, behaviour etc. The firm therefore decided to go to a trade fair in Oslo. The reaction was similar to the one experienced in Sweden. The main problem, according to the CEO, was to show the customers what kind of product the firm was selling. Although it shares some qualities that makes it possible to consider it a toy, it is more of a gift. Six months after the trade fair in Oslo, the firm went to a trade fair in Denmark and was well received there too. Shortly after people began to come from Finland to buy products, therefore the firm decided to find an agent for Finland. At this stage, the firm itself took care of the sales to the other Nordic countries. The firm...
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