China is Gina Tricot's second largest manufacturing market and we currently have about 40 suppliers spread out across the country, from Dalian and Peking in the north, to Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the south. Many types of products are manufactured in China – everything from shoes and accessories to outerwear and heavy knit sweaters. Early in August, Gina Tricot opened up a production office in Shanghai. It is located on the twenty-first floor of a building near Nanjing Road, in the centre of Shanghai. We sat down for a chat with the employees there just a week after the opening.
Emma Garrote Fredman, an experienced Gina Tricot employee from Borås, is the office manager in Shanghai. We asked Emma how it feels to have moved to Shanghai.
What is the biggest difference?
"Moving to Shanghai has been very fun and exciting. It is a huge adventure involving many challenges. The biggest difference is that this is such an enormous city. Borås is a city with a population of just over 100,000 residents. So, moving to a major world city like Shanghai, with a population of more than 20 million is quite a change!" she says.
Despite its size, everything seems to flow quite smoothly.
What are your impressions of Shanghai so far?
"I am very impressed. Despite its size, everything seems to flow quite smoothly. It's like controlled chaos. Shanghai is a very interesting city, with influences from both the east and west. It's like one huge melting pot! After just one month, I'm starting to feel at home here and the city already holds a special place in my heart," says Emma.
What do you think will be the greatest challenges for the success of the office?
"In order to succeed, you need to have clear goals and good cooperation with the office in Sweden, as well as our suppliers here in China. Without question, Gina Tricot has to be a little better than everyone else in order to succeed – even here in China!" she says.
At the office, there are three female employees who are local residents. We asked them about their impressions of Gina Tricot thus far. Lisa Xu is a merchandiser for woven and knit fabrics:
"I'm impressed by the quick pace at Gina Tricot. Everyone quickly replies to email and we rapidly create new, attractive models. When we make changes, we request a picture before approving the change. It's very effective!" she says. Elaine Chai, who works as a merchandiser for ready-to-wear and sportswear agrees: "Gina Tricot is quick and efficient. The company also respects its employees, so I already feel like I belong," she says. Candy Yue, works as a merchandiser for party wear and accessories: "I think I made a great choice when I accepted employment at Gina Tricot. This is a young, growing company, so I think there will be many career opportunities in the future," she says.
We also asked them how it feels to be working at a Swedish company.
Is the company culture very different?
"For me, it's not such a big difference, because I used to work for a Danish company," says Lisa Xu. I think Swedish companies are perhaps slightly better organized, with regular meetings for follow up," she says. Elaine and Candy agree: "No, it's not so different. We are used to working for European companies" they add.
What are your thoughts on the future for the textile industry in China?
"I think that China will be one of largest textile exporters long into the future," says Elaine. "But we need to be better at service, design and utilizing our advantages." Lisa agrees that service will become even more important going forward. "Salary expenses have increased in recent years, but China has a strong textile tradition and the suppliers are continuously improving their fashion skills and service to customers." Candy continues, "There are a huge number of textile factories in China, so I think Gina Tricot will have many opportunities to find good suppliers. I also hope that Gina Tricot will start opening stores in China. I think they would be a big hit," she says.
It will be exciting to follow the progress of the Shanghai office. Good luck, ladies!