Interview with Lim Liang Choo co-partner Atalia srl www.atalia.com

Singaporean living in Italy since 1986, independent professional specialized in marketing and management of top Italian brands of furniture and lighting, with over 20 years, this included 12 years in manufacturing high end Italian-made furniture and 8 years specialized in marketing focus in Chinese market.

Q: Can you please give us a brief description of your professional activity?

I represent 5 top brands of Italian furniture producers, of classic and contemporary styles furniture I advise and update the Italian team about the current market trends and market situation. I participate of the designs team and creates new collections.
I am rigorous about marketing research, and travel often to Asia, China included, almost 6 times a year. Each trip to Asia is usually for a minimum of 2 weeks, in major cities in China.
A key part of my job involves guiding the producer to enter into an international market.
This involves:

  1. Identifying potential dealers and selecting the suitable qualifying one.
  2. visiting the qualifying one, assessing and approving the location of the dealer,
  3. negotiating the contract between the Italian producer and the Asian dealer,
  4. giving guidelines to the dealer on how to set up and style the dealer ‘s shop,
  5. providing training to the local sales staff of how to sell the Italian products,
  6. following up and monitoring the development and growth of the business.

Q: Please share your insights and experience from working with:
Working with Italian producers can be challenging. However, thanks to living here in Italy for over 35 years, I have developed a deep understanding of the mentality, the business culture and the Italian mindset. All the 5 brands I represent are handcrafted products , using the manual carver, sculpting by hand, marquetry inlay works and artist painting on furniture, following and keeping true to form the King Louis and Versailles style. A lot of art work is involved. Therefore a professional study and understanding of the history and period furniture style is an must.
Mandarin is my main language for business. I speak fluent Italian and English and it helps a lot in my job. I can speak directly with both the Italian producers and with the Chinese dealers without need of an interpreter. This is a great comparative advantage for me.
Working in the Chinese market is demanding. The market situation can change very quickly, from month to month. The power to purchase remains strong and I believe it will be so for the distant future.

China is an big country. Between the north and the south there is a very different mentality and there are different ways of doing business. Even the weather and food are so different. International business tend to concentrated in Shanghai and Beijing, Guangzhou is more of a manufacturing and industrial area. The second tier cities are opening up fast.
The luxury furniture industry is very closely connected to the luxury real estate developments, so we are talking about high end products. Rarely would a home owner move into a new home with their old furniture, unless it is antique furniture, with substantial value. So there is an large market for Italian made furniture and decorations, including lighting, carpets, curtains and draperies.

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