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Armourcoat in Russia - “You can’t beat meeting personally with your target audience”

Armourcoat know a thing or two about expanding into new markets – the UK-based surface finishing company sells and distributes its products in 80 countries, and Russia is an important one of these 80.

The company is now well established in Russia, but it had to start somewhere there. Marketing Director Daniel Nevitt talks about the importance of finding reliable partners to get established, how Russian and European tastes differ, and why trade shows are still the best way to sell in a new market.
When did Armourcoat first enter the Russian market? What made you decide to take the plunge?

We’ve been very fortunate to work in the Russian market for a decade now, with the same partner – Studio A Dekor – in Moscow. We met in Riga, a fortunate introduction via our Latvian partner, and our relationship has been very successful, growing and strengthening over the years. Our products demand a specific sales strategy that places great emphasis on professional installation. Armourcoat wall finishes are hand applied, and they can be customised for specific clients seeking high-end luxury decorative effects.  We were lucky to meet a company who shared our ideals.

How do you operate in Russia – do you have an office there, or do you use a network of distributors?

Studio A Dekor (pictured) oversee the Armourcoat operation across Russia. They act as our master distributor in Moscow, managing and training a network of professional applicators in all key cities in the country. In addition, they work directly with the UK office on country specific sales and marketing initiatives – including our presence at MosBuild. (Russia’s largest building and interiors exhibition)

How did you find and form relationships with your Russian partners?

We rely heavily on Studio A Dekor to identify, train and support the applicator network. This emphasis on empowering local business has been key to Armourcoat’s success in numerous international markets. In Russia, the network also assists with regional trade events for architects and designers, and supports our growing exhibition programme. In addition, we regularly visit these associates to offer ongoing training, discuss sales strategies and introduce new products.

What are the main challenges of operating in the Russian market?

Current trading conditions have created barriers to our operation, particularly with currency fluctuations, and we are working creatively to best overcome these issues. Generally, the sheer size of the country presents challenges.

How do Russian and European interior tastes differ, in your experience?

I would view Russian design tastes as classical, with a focus on surface detail and ornate finishing. Modern industrial-inspired interior design is a recent European trend, with the use of ‘concrete’ urban styles, and this is making its way east.

Your company recently exhibited at the BakuBuild exhibition in Azerbaijan. What was it about the country that attracted you?

Baku is an oil-rich city with some stunning modern architecture. Armourcoat is a high-end brand and we are confident that there is a commercial and residential market for us in that city. We had just appointed a new partner in Azerbaijan, TriasDecor, and used BakuBuild and the opening of their new showroom as a springboard to launch Armourcoat. Our finishes have been specified on a range of developments in Baku, and the appointment and launch were very timely. 

Could you apply your experiences of working in Russia to your new territory of Azerbaijan?

In the same way, we have been fortunate to find the right people in this market. Our local team in Baku are very professional, and I have been highly impressed by their business approach. We are a company that focuses heavily on the personal relationship and on driving value and quality. We will act the same with our new Azerbaijan partners as we do with all our friends and associates worldwide.

What are the most notable projects you have been involved in in Russia and Azerbaijan?

Armourcoat work with a number of high profile clients in numerous sectors, particularly in hospitality and retail. Most notably, we have completed projects for Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Mulberry, Chanel, Van Cleef and Arpels.  We are also working on opportunities in the new Trump Hotel in Baku.

Your company operates in over 80 countries, so you are well versed in expanding into new markets. How do you generate new leads when you move into a new territory?

For most new markets, we work closely with the British government and trade organisations such as UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) and BCFA (the British Contract Furnishing Association) for financial support and market information. We normally commission an OMIS (Overseas Market Introduction Service) report through the British consulate to seek out potential partners and key individuals within the architecture and design community. In support of this, participation at trade shows is still by far the best means of analysis – offering a snapshot of the active market; revealing potential partners, competitors and customers. We generate leads through entertainment, presentations, advertising and even competitions. These activities are focused on the architect and designer, who are always looking for new products and inspirations. We offer that attraction to them in a new territory, and Armourcoat's outstanding pedigree never fails to impress.

You have exhibited at the MosBuild building and interiors show for six years now. How has taking part in trade shows helped you do business in new markets?

Armourcoat products are best demonstrated at trade shows. Whilst we place great emphasis on our web presence, with the world economy rapidly improving, exhibitions are gaining momentum again. You can’t beat meeting personally and directly with your target audience. People buy from people. From an international perspective, meeting principals from the organisation and discussing creative projects and design concepts provides added assurance and customer confidence.

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Tanya Aleksankina

International Sales Manager - Interiors sectors


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