For Finnish company Hukka Design, the 2017 EU Gateway | Business Avenues mission for Contemporary European Design has been a door opener not only for the South East Asian region, but for other Asian markets as well.
Hukka Design  crafts and sells wellness, sauna, cooking and gift products made of soapstone, a natural stone that’s 2,8 billion years old.
For over 26 years, the company located in Tuupovaara has established its reputation as a leading manufacturer of innovative natural products that have a variety of practical applications.
The EU Gateway | Business Avenues programme has brought the company closer to its goal of business expansion to Asia. Thanks to the 2017 mission, the company found its path through pursuing multiple valuable leads in the area.
The company’s efforts to expand to Asia have been a natural consequence of the increasing interest in its products on these markets.
Scandinavian design is highly appreciated and Finland, due to its recent publicity as “hip and happy place”, creates a lot of interest that helps with selling Finnish products. – Seppo Raijas, CEO, Hukka Design (Finland)
The EU Gateway | Business Avenues programme helped the Finnish manufacturer overcome many of the obstacles that the companies trying to enter new Asian markets often face.
Doing business in this area requires patience. Nothing happens very fast and the decision-making processes and all the product testing take a lot of time. But the potential is huge, so it definitely is worth the effort. – Seppo Raijas, CEO, Hukka Design (Finland)
The Contemporary European Design business mission that Hukka Design was a part of  took place from 8 to 14 March 2017, in Indonesia and Singapore.
In Indonesia, the companies attended technical seminars and had business meetings with big local names in the industry. In Singapore, they had the opportunity to exhibit their products at the Singapore Expo Convention & Exhibition Centre, during the International Furniture Fair 2017.
These opportunities helped Hukka Design establish and grow a solid business presence in Asia, including South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and China, all completely new markets for the company prior to the mission.
Now over 80% of our turnover comes from export and over half of it from outside the EU. – Seppo Raijas, CEO, Hukka Design (Finland)
Such results have been possible thanks to the thorough planning in the matchmaking process and support given by the EU Gateway | Business Avenues team.
The concerted efforts led Hukka Design representatives to meet targeted contacts and to pursue high-potential leads.
In Singapore, the company’s representatives met three new partners for the surrounding markets.
One of these new partners, based in Hong Kong, now sells Hukka Design’s products locally and on surrounding markets. Sales are steady and increasing progressively.
Another important contact that turned into a partner was with a new importer based primarily in South Korea.
We have found a very good importer and now also good chain of department stores and shops to sell our products. First shipment just left and we are expecting a bigger order before Christmas. First meeting with the retail chain representatives was in Singapore during the EU Gateway | Business Avenues mission. – Seppo Raijas, CEO, Hukka Design (Finland)
Another market that opened up for Hukka Design, thanks to its partaking in the 2017 EU Gateway | Business Avenues mission, is the Chinese one. During the mission, the company’s representatives met an importer in Shanghai that is now distributing its products across China.
These breakthroughs wouldn’t have been possible without the aid of the EU-funded programme.
EU Gateway | Business Avenues is a unique opportunity for us to expand to other markets where we otherwise wouldn’t have gone by ourselves. We don’t have the cultural knowledge, the marketing resources. The EU-funded Programme gave us this once in a lifetime opportunity. – Seppo Raijas, CEO, Hukka Design (Finland)
Following their undeniable success, Hukka Design representatives also recognised the value of the Programme for European companies in general.
Alone small companies from the EU cannot reach these markets, so common effort is required. Therefore I sincerely hope, that the good work of EU Gateway | Business Avenues programme will continue also in future. – Seppo Raijas, CEO, Hukka Design (Finland)
If your company is lacking the right resources to pursue its goals of expansion to Asia, the EU Gateway | Business Avenues programme could be the one for you.
Check out upcoming EU Gateway | Business Avenues openings  and apply!