Exhibiting at the Melbourne Gift Fair recently, Concept Japan had a record day on the opening day of the fair, making Saturday the best day ever in more than 20 years.
“Considering we haven’t had a fair for two years, it has been an amazing show so far,” says co-founder, Helen Ikeguchi, who started the brand with her husband Katsu in 2001.
“All the new products have been really well received, existing customers have come back and we have picked up some new customers as well. It has been the best fair we have ever had so far.”
As one of Australia’s largest importers of Japanese gift and homewares, the brand has a loyal base of customers across Australia.
“We didn’t just have Victorians visit our stand, there were a lot of people from Queensland, WA and some really good Sydney customers have come in and invested in the new range.
“We also had new people come through who are really interested in representing the whole collection, not just bits and pieces. They want Concept Japan in their store, which is really nice.”
With Christmas in mind, Concept Japan launched its new gift boxes at the fair. It had been difficult picking the gifting items as it had to be done through catalogues and via websites, says Ikeguchi.
“However, it all worked out and they have been very popular. They are an easy sell for retailers as the items come in a beautiful gift box. We used to have a retail store before we sold it and focused on just wholesaling, so we like to show our customers how to [best] merchandise it in their store.”
Unfortunately not everyone could make it to the fair, as retailers are struggling with staffing issues.
“We have had customers call us saying they couldn’t make it. They can’t leave their shop or close it for a couple of days, but still want to get a feel of the fair, see things up close, so we have been taking photos and sending them through, which they really appreciate.”