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Setting up shop in China

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“The Chinese market is quite different to the Western market. Client needs are different and expectations are different. We need to have a team that has an understanding of Asian research needs and Western research needs because the office is doing both of those functions,” Harrison said.

The office is led by an Englishman who also speaks Chinese. “The other expat is from Singapore,” Harrison said. “Our deputy general manager is Chinese and the executives over there are all Chinese.”

The motivation for establishing a presence in China was that B2B International’s clients were increasingly looking to sell into the country. Harrison added: “I looked at the feasibility of the move. I went to China, spoke to the players in the market and then we decided to set up an office there. I then stayed in China for almost a year.”

Harrison says that while the incorporation of the company was “slightly lengthy”, it wasn’t a huge problem. However, deciding where to be based was a challenge. “We chose Beijing because our work relies on speaking to industry associations and government officials and they tend to be in Beijing rather than Shanghai,” Harrison says.

“Recruiting staff was also a challenge. Market research and consultancy is a relatively embryonic market in China compared with the UK.”

B2B International is privately owned, has a turnover of £2.2m and 25 full-time employees in the UK. Harrison says the company is expected to double in size within the next couple of years because of its international development initiatives. Related Article: Buying goods from China to UK

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