The China market is crucial for the firm’s long term growth plans. It witnessed a sales boom in recent years as Chinese ‘daigou’ shoppers bought Blackmores products in Australia to sell on back in their homeland.
But uncertainty over e-commerce rules changes has seen this sales avenue slump, with the company now seeking to boost its in-country and direct exports to China.
In an interview with Chinese media, Holgate said Blackmores was learning from China’s methods of improving its natural health solutions: “I think we have a lot to learn from Chinese society about the use of herbs in medicine, which can help us be more successful for our customers and consumers here in Australia.”
Holgate also highlighted the Belt and Road Initiative as the main avenue through which Australia can take advantage of its growing relationship with China.
Proposed in 2013 by China, it references the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, whose purpose is to connect Asia, Europe and Africa through a trade and infrastructure network along the historical Silk Road.
She said, “The route from China down to Australia is really down through ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations), and we at Blackmores already have strong relationships with many of the countries that China does also.”
She added that despite the differences between China and Australia, entering the Chinese market may not be as difficult as some Australian companies thought, thanks to the countries’ shared similarities and the “incredible army of people right on our doorstep to help us and help us adapt”.
The company recently reported sales of $496m for the first three quarters of its financial year, down 6.7% from the previous corresponding period.
In Australia and New Zealand, its sales over the first three quarters amounted to $264m, a 26% drop from the previous corresponding period.