It has seemed for some time that international growth had been off the agenda for retailers concentrating on keeping their domestic house in order during a tough trading environment. But a several fashion retailers are again pursuing opportunities overseas.

As New Look’s results this week reaffirmed trading overseas is never straightforward and it has seemed for some time that international growth had been off the agenda for most who were concentrating on keeping their domestic house in order during a tough trading environment.

But last week Topshop outlined further expansion in the US and Brazil, Mothercare continued to thrive with its international business while growing fashion brands such as Jack Wills and All Saints hailed successful entries into the US.   

Online, Asos is making a big play for international growth and hopes to make £1bn from five overseas markets in the next five years.

New Look’s MIM fascia suffered from negative sales that analysts believe will continue for some time. Ireland was highlighted as another difficult market for the group.

Despite challenges though there are some fantastic growth opportunities that our small and competitive country cannot always cater for.

Brands with a real “British” heritage are often lapped up in places like Japan and New York. Paul Smith is still a major celebrity in Japan and I have seen him accosted by hysterical Japanese fans when walking through London.  

Jack Wills is hoping to make its mark internationally and its quirky and very British brand values should translate well in certain markets.

Inditex this week began its march into India and it highlights this market and China as huge opportunities going forward.

For larger businesses such as Inditex they have the capital and infrastructure to deal with the unique challenges the make-up that each new market brings. In emerging markets it may also take time to really build sales momentum but the bigger brands are making sure they are there first and in the right spots before the price of property goes up.

But there are opportunities whatever a retailer’s size, especially now the world has been made smaller with the advances of online and social media.  

If they are feeling more confident after surviving a tough couple of years there is no reason more retailers won’t want to make their presence felt on a global scale.

Top Woman

Watching Karren Brady on the Junior Apprentice last night it is clear she has not problems asserting herself in a male dominated environment; possibly the reason she was appointed to run Birmingham Football Club aged just 23 and perhaps the reason she has not become the first female board member recruited by Sir Philip Green’s for his Arcadia Group.

What strikes you about Karen is that despite a clearly tough business mind and manner she remains feminine and approachable, there are too many female executives who build up a masculine stance to fit in it what is such a male dominated executive world.

She is sure to bring some great insights to the group and is said to be working with Ian Grabiner to lay down a future strategy for the fashion powerhouse.