The company, which designs brands and interiors for clients including Arsenal Football Club, Amazon and Puma, won a competition to represent Edinburgh at the vast 2018 International Cultural Industries Fair in Shenzhen, a major city in China’s Guangdong Province, north of Hong Kong.
The advice and knowledge that the City of Edinburgh Council team gave us was invaluable. The infrastructure and support in Shenzhen around the incubator space...is bearing fruit and making it far easier for companies to start doing business there.David Dunn, Managing Director, 442 Design
The fair spans 105,000 square metres, with more than 2,300 exhibitors generating more than 224 billion Chinese yuan (£26 billion) in trade.
442 Design exhibited on a customised 500 square metre stand at the show dedicated to promoting the ‘Edinburgh Shenzhen Creative Exchange' – a partnership between City of Edinburgh Council and Shenzhen Creative Investment Group, a conglomerate specialising in cultural, creative, educational, tourism and tech investment.
“When we were alerted to the Shenzhen project, it started a catalyst of events and the timing was ideal,” said 442 Design managing director David Dunn. “We had been eyeing the Chinese market and reading lots about its vast size and potential.
“The Shenzhen Cultural Industries Fair gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase our key case studies to an interested and directly relevant market. We used the opportunity around the trade fair to generate other meetings with like-minded, interesting, and ambitious Chinese companies. It was a fantastic experience.”
Dunn said the team at Shenzhen Creative Investment Group was ‘highly professional’ and helped guide the business.
“The advice and knowledge that the City of Edinburgh Council team gave us in advance of the trip was invaluable,” he added. “The infrastructure and support in Shenhzen around the incubator space, translators and advice has been developed over the last few years by a strong relationship between the cities – and I believe it is bearing fruit and making it far easier for companies to start doing business there.”
During the visit, 442’s stand was visited by senior city representatives from Shenzhen and Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and Economy Convener, helping to generate a number of high-profile media stories and leading to increased interest in the company’s work. The company generated several ‘strong and active’ leads in Shenzhen – including with two Chinese Super League football clubs who met and discussed business with the company.
442 Design’s other clients in the UK include Fulham FC and the 12,000 capacity Liverpool Echo Arena, where the company created a new 150-seater destination lounge bar. 442 Design also creates visitor experiences for brands including Famous Grouse, Tennent’s Lager and the BBC. The company was formed in 2002 and is based in Edinburgh city centre with 20 staff.
“Return trips are already planned and 442 is also currently working on major bar projects in Shanghai and Beijing,” Dunn said of the Shenzhen trip.
“We are also discussing staff exchange opportunities with a company based in Shenzhen, which would give invaluable insight to working practices both for Chinese designers here and for our designers in China.
“We’ve already scheduled follow up trips to two or three companies based in China with potential project opportunities. We also have a bar opening to attend in Shanghai!”
The International Cultural Industries Fair (Shenzhen) is in its 14th year and is run in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture and Commerce, the State Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Guangdong (Regional) Provincial People’s Government, and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government.
Shenzhen was identified as a target market for investment into Edinburgh’s creative industry in 2013, when the Lord Provost of Edinburgh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the city's Vice Mayor.
The project includes an international creative industries incubator space in both cities to encourage creative small and medium sized businesses from Edinburgh and Shenzhen to expand and raise their international profile through the cities' MOU.
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