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Opportunities in France for design giftware and jewellery products

Published: September 2013

Creative Industries in France

Creative Industries (also known as Cultural Industries in France) are a growing sector, but the French still look to the UK as a lead country: daring, innovative and creative.
In France, crafts, design (retail, products, industrial), architecture and heritage are all expanding sectors that would welcome partnerships and growth with UK businesses.

Since the 17th century, France has always been a trendsetter in style, furniture and art objects. But in the last three decades France has also begun to become a contemporary trendsetter and Paris a world centre for international contact and trade in creative industries and design related activities.

Starting in the late 1980s there has been a considerable shift in French consumer taste and French style. Today, Paris is a very important destination for creative design.
The year 2006 marked an important turning point as the year when - for the first time - more contemporary and casual furniture was sold in France than traditional and classic design items; the young French are turning more and more to contemporary design to decorate their homes.

Design Giftware Sector – Overview & Opportunities

It is a highly concentrated market with an increase use of Internet.
Pricing goods is very important as recommended retail prices leave small margins.
Smaller retailers or galleries use a mark-up of over 130% plus VAT. Margins in large department stores are much more fluid than those of smaller retailing outlets and galleries.
British design and quality is appreciated in France and products with added-value are likely to perform better.

The demand is for small objects, the vintage/retro look is very trendy. 
Fun, colourful, useful, portable high-tech accessories are also very popular.
There are new options in lighting - especially energy-saving - from very functional to extravagant, always with a “design look”, simple, contemporary, different, useful and fairly priced.
The Giftware sector is going “Green” and products with an eco-design concept are likely to perform well.

The Jewellery Sector - Key Facts

The French prefer to spend on cheaper products usually turning to silver or costume jewellery rather than gold. There was a 10% leap in turnover in 2011 and 6% in 2012
However, the estimated growth for 2013 is only +1.5%.

Prices are very competitive as large volumes come out of India and China. France imported £3.7 billion of jewellery and watches (excl. VAT), a +23% increase on the previous year.
If a piece of jewellery complies with the British regulation for hallmarking, it can enter the French market. The piece of jewellery must have 3 marks: the manufacturer's mark, the metal and fineness state mark, the assay office mark (“poinçon du bureau de garantie”).

Maison & Objet
- Next Rendez-vous: 6-10 September 2013 and 24-28 January 2014

A unique opportunity to break onto the French market is to attend a trade fair in France as an exhibitor to meet potential buyers or distributors and get a feel of the market. Maison & Objet is an exclusive international industry event for interior design, home decoration and furnishings, giftware, jewellery and tableware in Paris. It offers a good opportunity to gain an overview of the trends and welcomes new creative talent. For British SMEs, Maison & Objet is the key fair in continental Europe. It creates the opportunity to showcase their products to a much wider audience. Funding is available to cover exhibition space and stand costs as an exhibitor.

Keys to Success in France(2)

•    Research the market
•    Clear USPs – what makes my product stand out from the competition?
•    Translate as much of your website/product literature as possible into good French
•    Good quality-price ratio
•    Prices in Euros
•    Find a good business partner
•    Ensure you can communicate with customers and partners - in French if you have to
•    Build up a long-term relationship with partners and customers
•    Selling to France is a medium- to long term venture – things will not happen overnight
•    Be prepared for extended payment terms
•    Keep delivery promises – and use EU palettes if necessary

Funding available

1.    Market Visit Support - UKTI
Up to £200.00 of funding is available to cover travel costs, hotels and subsistence.
Applications need to be sent about 4 weeks ahead of travel. Each region has a pot of money operating on a first come first served basis.

2.    BEDG (British European Design Group) UKTI Accredited Trade Association (ATO)
Up to £1,500 is available for stand costs only through TAP (Trade Access Program). Funding is available for each individual company booking at least 4 square meters of floor space. Applications need to be sent to BEDG at least 8 weeks before the exhibition.

3.    Passport to Export – UKTI
Up to £3,000.00 available on a match basis:  50% funding, 50% contributed by the company, e.g. for a grant of £3,000, the company contribution is £3,000.
Funding will apply to expenses such as exhibition costs, travel expenses, translation and interpreting costs.  Companies need to contact their regional UKTI International Trade Adviser (ITA). Eligibility criteria for company approval applies but there is room for flexibility.

Language Solutions

Translation of brochures and other documentation about your products is crucial for your French audience. Having a French speaker or an interpreter on your stand is necessary not to miss opportunities with prospective customers/distributors. These services may be funded by The UKTI Passport for Export programme. Michel Amieux and his team of French expert linguists provide bespoke language solutions. They offer a direct service, so companies don’t need to go through an agency and that might save a substantial of the cost.

For more information on the design giftware and jewellery sectors in France, please contact Michel Amieux, at or +44(0)7810 118 886.
(1)    Source text BEDG (British European Design Group)
(2)    Source text UKTI

FMConnections (
FMConnections is dedicated to help UK SMEs grow on the French market. We offer a uniquely comprehensive range of cultural and language services to ensure UK businesses communicate effectively with their French clients.  Services include: Cultural Briefing, Export Administration, Translation, Interpreting, Language Training and Voiceover (
Michel Amieux is an experienced and qualified linguist (translator, interpreter, language trainer) who has worked with many companies in the UK. Michel has teamed up with the best qualified and experienced French professional linguists experts around to provide effective communication solutions for UK companies trading in France.
In partnership with market researchers in France, FMConnections is able to provide a unique one stop communication service combining language and market research solutions for the French market.s
To get Michel's powerpoint presentation on Maison & Objet and for a good outline of the creative industries in France, please contact Michel at or +44(0)7810 118 886.

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