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Thriving Abroad: 3 Companies that Made the Right Move

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While many new startups don’t survive the first 18 months, the good businesses do last and go from strength to strength, employing people and helping the economy.

Some of these rising stars also make a move offshore. Deciding to venture outside of their marketplace, and in fact, their entire legal and taxation system, is risky but get it right, and it’s advantageous. This business blog looks at three shining examples of brave companies that stepped out beyond their shores and are now thriving


It’s hard to get past ASOS as a core example of a business that has beaten the odds and come out on top. In 2020 ASOS’s annual revenue was £3.26 billion. Would it be as strong if the owners had kept it within the UK? Not likely.

So what has made ASOS so successful abroad? Well, ASOS is an acronym for ‘as seen on screen. ASOS created a new category and was the market leader. This is marketing 101 according to the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Selling the clothing of favorite screen stars became a recipe for success. Who wouldn’t want to dress up as Brad Pitt in Fight Club or Mr & Mrs Smith?

Themed parties are still popular – and in many countries called ‘fancy dress’ or ‘dress up’. World-wide the business found success, and recently, it has gone on a buying spree, successfully acquiring TopShop, TopMan, Miss Selfridge, and HIIT brands (workouts).

2. Graze

After initial success in the UK, healthy snacks company Graze saw its next move. It opened up in the USA, launching in every US state simultaneously in December 2013. While this was a bold approach, it paid off as they gained more than 100,000 new customers within the first three months.

Graze perhaps owes part of its success to the fact that its move abroad was well-timed (establishing itself in a foreign market before its competitors beat it there). Still, it’s undoubtedly also because it had a proven track record in the UK and could learn from its success at home before applying similar principles to its US launch.

Unilever acquired Graze in 2019.

3. Farfetch

Farfetch is the world’s leading high-end fashion boutique website and, like ASOS, is an online marketplace. Starting in Portugal (with its headquarters in London), this business’s model of prioritizing ‘bricks and clicks’ (“building an online marketplace for inventory but also encouraging fashion boutiques to retain their flagship stores” meant it had the proper infrastructure in place to venture overseas.

Founded in 2007, this business now employs 1,500 people and is being steered towards a $5 billion flotation in New York. This company has been so successful in venturing abroad due, in part, to the fact it realized that many luxury fashion boutiques didn’t have the resources and knowledge to set up a global e-commerce site. And, by ‘stocking’ inventory from all over the world, Farfetch has been able to offer a massive amount of products from boutiques across the globe – and therefore draw a global customer base too – meaning its success overseas was almost inevitable.

As you can see, by forward-thinking key obstacles, identifying gaps in the market, and taking the risk to invest wholeheartedly, all of these companies have quickly earned a foothold in America and in other major world markets.

Today there are different obstacles that deem setting up physical locations globally risky, especially in sectors like retail, and hospitality. Most startups focus on making it online and then if funds or investment permits they may seek a physical presence in global locations of interest like cities. Digital marketing strategies like email has lowered the cost of entry for startups keen to take their products or services globally.

Plus staff can work remotely and offshore so there is no need for expensive workplaces.

However, there is a lot more competition so you really need to be on top of your game and know your USPs, KPIs, and how to attract and retain customers.