European Market Development Strategy & Outreach at PLMA

Client: Soapworks Ltd

Target Sectors: Personal care market, Beauty, bar soaps and shampoos

Markets: France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland

Project Overview:

Soapworks, a contract manufacturer based in the east end of Glasgow was set up over 30 years ago by Anita Roddick to make soaps for the Body Shop.  It successfully expanded its client base to supply many of the UK’s leading brands and retailers, achieving a turnover of £12m.  With the UK being an increasingly saturated and competitive marketplace and its recent acquisition and investment by the Daabon group, Soapworks decided to turn to Europe for expansion.  It was pinning it hopes on the PLMA trade show in Amsterdam where it had invested in a large presence, but it didn’t know enough about Europe to prepare for the show.  With financial support from SDI, Soapworks engaged OCO to help it better understand the European market and set up meetings with priority buyers at the show.  We had 8 weeks to turn this around.  The future of Soapworks was intrinsically linked to its success at the show.

OCO Approach:

OCO approached the project in 3 phases.  First we delivered a strategic market report for Europe, focusing on Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy and Poland.  We prioritised the three best markets and their respective potential customers, highlighting competitors and defining the best opportunities across soap and shampoo bars.  With the top 3 markets (Germany, France and Netherlands) OCO then identified several profiles of targets to determine the best routes to market: large retailers; large group care products; Soap brands; Beauty brands; Drugstores; Beauty online retailers; and Cosmetic contract manufacturers. OCO developed a list of 57 potential partners in the 3 markets.  We then identified the C-level buyers and key contact details and conducted an outreach campaign to secure meetings at the PLMA show.


In a short time frame, OCO provided Soapworks with pertinent, actionable insights in a detailed multi-country report that validated the business opportunity and helped them understand where it could play and how it could compete.  OCO set up 6 qualified business meetings with priority targets and executive-level buyers across Germany and the Netherlands, including leading brands such Rituals and Henkel.


Hear Claire Caddis, Soapworks Sales and Business Development Director share their growth journey: