TORONTO – September 25, 2017 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Lugaro, Vancouver’s local jeweler, during Gateway ’17, a conference hosted by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Trudeau urged Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses to explore the US$5 trillion retail opportunities in China and shared a story of Lugaro’s recent success with Alibaba:
“Consider also a success of Canadian Jewellery retailer, Lugaro. A vertically integrated business with a handful of locations in British Columbia. Selling other 300 jewelry pieces on Alibaba, the uptake was tremendous with many items selling out completely.”
Jewelry chain was singled out by Trudeau in his keynote as a company open to innovation and trying new things in the China market. The vertically integrated company, founded and run by Steve Agopian and his family, recently ventured into the China market via Taobao Global. In a three-day debut that included live-streaming from Canada by three Chinese bloggers, Lugaro sold 300 pieces from their popular $488 and $888 Canadian Diamond Collections.
The sold-out event, Gateway ’17, had 3,600 Canadian companies signed up to attend today’s conference. Canadian politicians from all three levels of government were in attendance, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory and The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade (Right: with Lugaro Founder and President, Steve Agopian).
“I’ve always believed in acting locally and thinking globally. Vancouver is an International city. I have employees and friends from all parts of the world,” Agopian said. “Furthermore, if you are a Canadian business, why not expand into China? It’s a good opportunity to showcase our business and expand our market reach.”
“I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers,” Lugaro’s Steve Agopian said, noting he picked up some important insight on day three of Lugaro’s launch on Alibaba’s Taobao Global platform. Results were staggeringly good, with over 300 pieces of jewelry retailing around C$500 and C$1,000 sold to Chinese customers and several items selling out completely.
Agopian said he went with “entry-level” jewelry for his first venture into China. “At the entry level, there is fine jewelry that satisfies all the events of life – engagements, gift-giving, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day,” Agopian said. “I said, ‘let’s start entry-level. I don’t want to tackle the high end at this point in time.”
Watch the entire conference video here:
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