Download the PDF version (130KB)
The pandemic hit just as Shaw Wines’ plans to expand Asia got off to a good start. Premium family-owned vineyards wanted to build exports across Asia when COVID-19 stopped traveling and China imposed new trade measures. The owner, Graeme Shaw, did the following remotely with Austrade:
- Find a reputable distributor in Singapore
- Research markets throughout Asia
- Conclude a multilateral contract.
Shaw Wines’ Riesling, Merlot and Malbec will soon be available in luxury hotels and wine shops in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
“I might have tried to do this myself, but it would have been difficult,” Graeme says. “It’s difficult to build trust without meeting with our export partners. In difficult situations, Singapore’s Austrade has been very helpful.
Devise an export strategy in partnership with the Australian Trade Promotion Agency
In 2019, Graeme began working with TradeStart and Austrade to devise an export strategy for Southeast Asia. Canberra-based Shaw Wines has already exported to China and has experimented with several sales models, including mini-program sales via WeChat. Graeme sought insight into what works best in Southeast Asia.
“The trade adviser understood that I wanted to go gradually,” says Graeme. “We have decided on Singapore as our first market. Singapore has a mature wine market and is the gateway to expansion into Southeast Asia.”
Graeme and his advisors considered finding an established wine dealer to be the best first step. In March 2020, when the pandemic finished its international air travel, Graeme was about to leave for Singapore.
Remote work with Singapore-based trade advisors
Instead of delaying the plan, Graeme began working closely with Ryan Solomon, an adviser to the Singapore-based Austrade Agency. With industry contacts, Ryan began identifying potential partners.
“Ryan knew the right person to talk to, and he came up with a good list of distributor candidates,” Graeme says. “He talked with many distributors on my behalf, evaluated his abilities, and shared his thoughts.
‘The trade adviser also looked up the credentials. This was very important to us. I had to make sure I had Shaw Wines at hand. The brand’s reputation is very important as our wines have won over 1000 medals and trophies at international festivals.
How to find the best distributor
TradeStart and Austrade advisors have worked together to arrange a series of WebEx calls with four potential distributors. This allowed Graeme to understand how a potential distributor suggested selling his wine and controlling his brand.
“This was an important decision for us because we trusted our brand with our new partners,” says Graeme. “All four distributors were great. It was a testament to the foundation of the Australian Trade Promotion Agency in Singapore.”
Graeme says he was familiar with the Singapore market and found it worthwhile to have Ryan attend the conference.
“Ryan had a question that I probably didn’t even think of,” Graeme says. “This meant that we were always identifying risks and making sure they were under control.”
Use high-end tourism to increase brand awareness
Shaw Wines chose Cornerstone Wines, a well-established distributor. The company is part of Hock Tong Bee (Private) Limited, one of Singapore’s oldest and largest independent wine and spirits companies and an increasingly important regional player.
With relevant commercial expertise, the Australian Trade Promotion Agency helped Shaw Wines conclude a contract in February 2021. Through the partnership, Shaw Wines will be gradually sold in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
“At the beginning of 2021, I was approved for the first export without stepping into Singapore,” says Graeme. “Currently the amount is small, but our goal is to grow steadily.”
Tourism plays a major role in brand development. Some of Shaw Wines’ existing strategies include skipping visitors from Sydney to the vineyards to provide a great gourmet experience. Graeme will extend its vision to visitors from Asia when international tourism resumes.
“We are increasing brand awareness by opening the doors of vineyards and cellars to high-end tourism,” he says. “Singapore is the target of this strategy. Over time, international tourism will help us market our brand in Asia.
Why work with the Australian Trade Promotion Agency?
Graeme recommends working with the Australian Trade Promotion Agency and TradeStart for similar companies or SMEs who wish to expand into Asia and require on-site expertise. He says this is especially valuable if new exporters are unable to meet potential customers and distributors in person.
“We worked very well among the three,” he says. “Working with the Australian Trade Promotion Agency has helped us gain confidence in Singapore’s wine market, which is already crowded with hundreds of wines and many distributors.
“We were feeling our way. Austrade helped us find good distributors in difficult times. We are not the only ones to choose distributors. To choose us. Also needed them. “
Graeme reports that the Australian Trade Promotion Agency has provided multiple levels of support throughout the export process.
“Given their market knowledge, the Australian Trade Promotion Agency provides us with good insights and advice on contracts. They help us label correctly and are always very thorough.” Graeme says.
“It’s dangerous to start exporting without visiting a new country and without local expertise,” he adds. “With the help of the Australian Trade Promotion Agency and TradeStart, we took only the calculated risk, which is due to the quality of the people who work together in Singapore and Canberra.”
About the Australian Trade Promotion Agency
The Australian Trade Promotion Agency (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency.
We provide companies with quality trading and investment services to grow Australia’s prosperity. This is achieved by generating and providing market information and insights, facilitating Australia’s capabilities and facilitating connectivity through an extensive global network.
To discover how we can help you and your business austrade.gov.au Or contact us at [email protected] Or 1328 78 (in Australia).