Premier League status boosts Huddersfield’s business trade with China


Huddersfield Town Football Club’s promotion to the Premier League at the end of the last season has become the catalyst for growing trade links between businesses in the town and China.

The club’s commercial director, Sean Jarvis, said the club’s £3m shirt sponsorship deal with Chinese gaming group Ope Sports had raised awareness of the Premier League side among the rapidly growing numbers of football fans in China.

“By sponsoring Huddersfield Town, Ope Sports’ aim is to reach potential customers in China, rather than the UK, which tells you a lot: there is a huge appetite for British football over there.

“The international trade learning curve has been steep for us but there are extremely positive relationships already being built between individuals, and whole areas of China.”

This success of the trade relationship was explored at an export event at Huddersfield Town’s John Smith’s Stadium, which saw around 40 Yorkshire exporters, as well as businesses new to overseas trade, come together to hear how opportunities are opening up for local organisations interested in doing business with China – as a result of the country’s love of UK football.

On the back of the club’s success, Huddersfield-based business Fired Up Corporation, which is a commercial partner of the Premier League club, has been expanding its Chinese operations. Established 20 years ago in Huddersfield, the fireplace and electrical products manufacturer has grown to become a global employer, and has factories in both the UK and in southern China, where it employs 200 people in Zhongshan.

Richard Kaye, Fired Up chairman and CEO, said: “We have complete control of our manufacturing base and stock in China and have seen staggering growth of 18 per cent this year.

“We’re licensed as both an exporter and domestic supplier to the Chinese market. Our operations over there, particularly being seen as an employer of choice in Zhongshan, are being boosted by our association with Huddersfield Town.”

For the last five years, Fired Up and Huddersfield Town have jointly provided annual football summer camps for up to 200 children in Nantou, Zhongshan. Last year, at the request of Zhongshan City, they provided a delegation of senior coaches to instruct 120 local teachers in basic football coaching skills.

Talks with the council are said to be underway to twin Huddersfield with a town in China and the club is exploring opportunities to play a series of matches in the country, funded by sponsor Ope Sports.

Jarvis added: “There are clearly some fantastic opportunities opening up for commercial and sporting relationships to be established between Huddersfield and China and we are only at the start of the journey.

“Next year is the Chinese Year of the Dog and as we’re the only Premier League side with a canine mascot, I think that probably bodes well for 2018 and beyond.”

Also speaking at the ExportExchange event were David Mandley, CEO of Leeds medical device manufacturer Tissuemed; Mark Daley, global operations director of translation business The Big Word; and Connect China director Joanna Lavan.