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Help!!-Export To Europe

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Hey everybody,

    So I luckily have several importer/distributors interested in my product in Europe.  However, I know nothing about importing, distribution or sales in Europe.  Many of these guys(by many there are 3 interested) and 2 of them are asking for exclusivity one for two countries he operates in and one for all of Europe.  Yes all of Europe.  I am a very small distillery only producing about 800 bottles maximum capacity per month.  I don't know how hard that would be to sell in Europe, but I think if you have exclusivity you should be expected to hit certain numbers.  Talking to these guys they believe my bottle will hit the shelf for about 35 Euros.  And again I have no Idea what to ask these guys for.  So a few questions,

1. If they have exclusivity should the contract say that they have to sell a certain amount of bottles or I can break the contract?

2. If yes to question 1 how hard is it to break a contract if they are not selling what they are supposed too?

3. Do they do all of the marketing or do I need to help them? I obviously am not going to be doing events and stuff in Europe.  How does that work?

4. Should I just hire a consultant to hold my hand through this process?  If, so any idea how much that would cost and do you have any recommendations for consultants around the European Union?


Thank you guys so much any help would be appreciated, I just don't want to walk into a bad situation because I am in experienced,.

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We've looked at several of these requests and we've been open less than a year so I tend to be very careful and take them with a grain of salt.

While having European interest is great for the ego, I'd be somewhat cautious. I would ask myself some hard questions like:

If I'm only making 800 bottles a month how many am I prepared to ship? Would it be enough to actually make money on? Or, would those bottles be more valuable if sold directly through the distillery's tasting room? 35 Euro is only about $40 US - so by the time you factor in all of the wholesale, shipping and other associated costs, where is the profit coming from? And will Europeans spend 35E for a product they don't know anything about? Probably not - given that the Europeans are great distillers in their own right. So, unless you've got something fucking amazing, unavailable in Europe and covered by some kind of unique patent-able process, I'd say stay frosty and focus on your local business.

Consider the same offer if had come from the next state over - what would the issues be? Are they selling enough? What kind of sales efforts are they putting forward? Likely, after some time, as most do, you would become unhappy with the distribution company - maybe they aren't selling enough or whatever. How would you address that? Could you address the same problem in another language several thousand miles away?

It's always important to remember a distribution company distributes - they don't sell or market - that's your job - and - that could wind up being very expensive and difficult to achieve if you are only selling 3 or 4 hundred bottles a month in a land where you don't know the culture and have no local contacts.


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  • 5 months later...


I don't currently sell me spirits into Europe but I have another business that does. I am very familiar with exporting into Europe and importing from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. If you would like to have a detailed discussion over the phone I would be happy to share what I know.

Send me a personal e-mail if interested.

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