Just how big Stockport FC is in China, no-one can say. The club dominates the sport in Liaoning, population 42 million, and the fan base has mushroomed across a dozen provinces in central and western China. Each summer the team plays to sell out stadiums in Hubei, Shaanxi and Sichuan. One region’s government, Xinjiang, built a stadium and founded a team just so they could host the mighty Hatters. The TV audience for their last tour hit 700 million.
The club is achieving what every company in the industrialised world dreams of, namely turning the world’s fastest growing economy into a core market.
With 1.3 billion untapped consumers and an economy that has sustained double- digit growth for a decade in the East, China is a mouth-watering destination for exporters. Unfortunately, Stockport County is a rare exception; most British businesses rarely get beyond the drooling stage.
The secret of Stockport’s success: guanxi, which translates roughly as "relationships". For any aspiring international UK business, you must understand that long, deep-rooted business relationships are the key to success in China. Click here to read the full story about how to build your business in China.
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