UAB Sabalin: brand development is being hampered by the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19

There are many clothing and textile companies of various sizes and types in Lithuania. Some of them are of Lithuanian capital, others develop their activities with the help of foreign partners and their experience. We will review the path of LATIA Export Development cluster companies in Lithuania. We invite you to read an interview with UAB Sabalin Director Regina Arcišauskaite.

How was your company established?

Šiauliai has long been a city of leatherworkers, so thanks to several enthusiasts, the company was established in 1998.

Have you changed production over time?

Over time, the output has changed slightly.

What markets did you have to work with and what products did you have to produce?

In the beginning, we started with the production of footwear. Trade relations abroad have helped us. After that we searched for clients, we communicated with the representatives of Great Britain and Finland. The manufactured products provided an opportunity to ensure the good name of the technologist and to choose orders at our discretion.

We also participated in all kinds of projects. The German Chamber of Commerce organized training with the participation of experts. In turn, we shared ideas. We managed to start cooperating with the representatives of the Esprit brand, who also came to us. We started to manufacture products according to their models. We assembled the materials ourselves, collected the sizes and so on.

The production of fashionable clothes, shoes and accessories began to open the door to the German market. We participated in international exhibitions in Düsseldorf, looked for representatives in this market and, step by step, entered the German market. We turned to the market of  shoes for teenagers- sizes 31 to 42.

I also had the pleasure of working with the Finnish and British markets. We have produced specially adapted products for the Finnish market – thicker soles, plastic, comfortable shoes.

We have recently been selling half of our exported goods under our own brand, Sabalin.

Are the markets and the products made for them different?

Of course, markets have their own specific features. For example, comfort, size and quality are important to Germans, and they especially value leather products. The Finnish range is mainly for the winter season, more attention is paid to comfort and warmth.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

Winter footwear sales took place in February and quarantine suddenly ensued, that meant no contact with business owners, no trade fairs, shops closed. The purchase of spring shoes begins in mid-March, and the stores were still closed. Naturally, spring footwear orders fell, and sellers were left with warehouses full of leftover stock. It is likely that the frequency of ordering goods will also change – instead of spring-summer, autumn-winter orders and more in those intervals, we will have annual or per demand orders.

This period halted many plans. We want to expand, but it is unclear how this will be achieved. The demand for sustainable fashion products – clothing, footwear – is growing, but COVID-19 is changing consumption patterns.

Major changes are taking place now and elsewhere. In Germany, the number of stores is being reduced, with some brands merging with others. Everyone analyzes the situation and looks at how to survive.