The Canadian market is getting closer to Ukrainian business. According to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, Ukraine exported goods to Canada for $ 45.5 million during the first eight months of 2018. This is almost half (+ 45,8%) more than for the same period in 2017.
It is important to note the positive trend. Even 5-10 years ago that was large business that considered entering the Canadian market, while now more and more domestic small and medium-sized enterprises want to try their hand in Canada.
The growth of export performance was also facilitated by the introduction of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA), which has opened up additional opportunities for domestic companies to export to the promising Canadian market. The agreement, which entered into force on 1 August 2017, in particular, provides for the abolition of import duties for 98% of Ukrainian goods.
Focus at small and medium businesses
The Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support (CUTIS) Project is a powerful auxiliary tool for development of exports to Canada. CUTIS is a five year (2016 – 2021) international technical assistance project funded by the Canadian Government through the Global affairs Canada and implemented by the Conference Board of Canada in partnership with the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, CUTIS is implementing U CAN EXPORT – the first wave of the program to support exports to Canada in five priority sectors: clothing, footwear, furniture, confectionery, and the IT sector. The project focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which, according to the project, have good prospects in the Canadian market.
After receiving applications from interested companies, there were two stages of selection. As a result, 8 clothing manufacturers and 8 shoe manufacturers were selected, which, in collaboration with the project, were presented in Toronto in August 2018. For the selected companies, training was conducted with the participation of leading Canadian experts. The experts accompanied the participating companies and provided them with professional advice both during the trip and during the preparation for exhibitions.
Toronto Shoe Show
Toronto Shoe Show was held in Toronto on 19 – 21 August 21. More than 700 brands of European footwear and accessories were represented at the exhibition.
Ukrainian shoe industry was presented by well-known brands:
- Belsta (Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky, one of the largest producers of indoor footwear in Ukraine;
- Caman (мBrovary, producing stylish men’s and women’s shoes, as well as specialized sports shoes);
- InBlu (a joint Ukrainian-Italian company producing footwear at the Kyiv Shoe Factory);
- KaDar (Lutsk, focusing on the production of casual men’s shoes);
- Kredo (Khmelnytskiy, specializing in winter shoes on EBA sole);
- Krok (Zhytomyr, one of the largest manufacturers of industrial and military footwear);
- Litma (Khmelnytskiy, an extremely wide range of rubber footwear);
- Olteya (Zhytomyr, specializing in the production of women’s leather shoes).
Toronto’s trade show was another proof that Ukrainian shoes are a great combination of comfort, quality and contemporary design.
What conclusions can be drawn from the exhibition?
Firstly, everyday footwear is most in demand, as it is light, flexible and comfortable. More formal models belong to the niche products. Sneakers is the most popular kind of shoes for both sexes and all age groups.
Winter boots is the most competitive segment of the footwear market, as they are a necessity in the Canadian climate. Moreover, Ukrainian producers should focus on products of high-quality raw materials. The importance of high-tech materials, such as waterproof leather, is growing.
Brand is a key factor in the footwear market for both sexes and all types of shoes: consumers generally have a high level of loyalty to shoes brands. Canadians are willing to pay a high price for good-quality branded shoes.
Therefore, it makes sense for Ukrainian companies to look closer at the possibility of manufacturing footwear under private label for Canadian companies, since the market introduction of a Ukrainian brand would require large marketing costs, which is not feasible for all enterprises.
Apparel Textile Sourcing Canada
Apparel Textile Sourcing Canada was held on 20-22 August and brought together more than 500 apparel manufacturers from more than 20 countries around the world. This is the largest exhibition in Canada designed to match representatives of the fashion industry, clothing and textile manufacturers, as well as retailers.
Ukrainian garment makers found themselves in a company with businesses from China, Canada, the USA, Switzerland, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Korea, Indonesia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.
The domestic light industry in Canada was introduced by both well-known trademarks and small startup enterprises:
- Andre TAN (women’s designer clothes);
- Berserk Sport (sportswear);
- Bukvica (men’s and women’s clothing, accessories);
- AnnaFoxy (women’s casual clothing, lingerie, accessories);
- RITO (men’s and women’s knitted garments);
- Soho Chic (women’s clothes);
- Rubizhne Stocking Manufacture (socks);
- Lagrand (Lesya Factory, women’s and men’s trousers).
For the first time, five Ukrainian brands (Andre TAN, Soho chic, Berserk Sport, Bukviсa and Rito) participated in the fashion show that took place within the framework of the exhibition. This indicates the high level of models developed and sewn in Ukraine.
Participation of domestic companies in the exhibitions of this level proves that Ukrainian products are an optimal combination of the best fabrics, audacious designer designs, solutions, affordable prices and the highest quality standards.
What should other Ukrainian clothing manufacturers that are interested in entering the Canadian market focus on? In fact, two opposite trends are visible. On the one hand, there is a growing demand for so-called “one-time” clothes – affordable clothing that you do not need to try on. Popularity of the sports style is growing: due to the dress code change, sportswear is becoming increasingly popular at work.
On the other hand, there are still many consumers who consider quality of fabrics as a priority. Organic cotton remains popular, but the focus shifts to recycled fabric.
As a summary, we would like to point out that, despite the fact that Canada is a highly competitive market, it can and must be approached. The main thing for the companies is to be ready for export and not to be afraid to change and adjust to the requirements and tastes of demanding Canadian consumers.
Natalia Pavlyuk, Senior Assistant, CUTIS Project in Ukraine
Source: magazine “All about the textile industry”