Fashion & Apparel Industry Specialist with rich experience in China

Bjørn Ingwar Karlsen
[1984.11.25, Danish]

Shanghai, China | (+86) 18652869178

Bjørn Ingwar Karlsen


Well-structured and goal-driven business professional with +7 years’ experience in the Fashion & Apparel industry. Key expertise in setting up a new business, Business Development, Project Management, Multi-channel Management, Operations Management, Strategy, and P&L management. Fluent in both spoken and Chinese (Mandarin).

5 years’ experience in setting up B2B/B2C revenue streams: Wholesale, Retail, and E-commerce (Tmall) in China. Built and developed team of 13 members from two offices and two stores (Shanghai/Zhenjiang).

Successful track record in creating rewarding customer experiences in the lifestyle segment, by merging a well-founded operational backbone in the back-end with exciting front-end initiatives.

Deep understanding of VUCA factors in an emerging market, with ability to formulate competitive business plans to transform challenges into opportunities.

Languages: Danish, English, and Chinese.


Job categories: Country Manager, Project Management, Business Development, Sales (B2B/B2C).


  • Project Management: Solid track-record in executing projects against tight deadlines
  • Multi-channel Management: Development of B2B/B2C sales channels in China
  • Key expertise in P&L management for retail businesses
  • Business Development: Both in sales, supply chain and logistics operations such as 3PL optimization 
  • Operations Management: Build your China enterprise with the right solutions for better administration and synergies
  • Organization building & Management: 5 years’ experience building lean organization to handle China market
  • Ability to navigate your business in VUCA market and avoid legal conflicts


Rains – Shanghai, China Aug 2015 – present

Rains is a Danish fashion and lifestyle brand offering waterproof outerwear, bags and accessories. The brand was established in Denmark in 2012 and entered China in the beginning of 2016.

Country Manager, China

Through five years of establishing Danish brand Rains in China, I have gained extensive experience about the Chinese fashion & apparel market and built up a network of partners and professionals in the Chinese retail industry.
    In charge of expansion into the Chinese market. Developed and executed sales focused market-entry strategy with wholesale, retail and ecom revenue streams at the core. 


  • Built a network of 20 high-quality wholesale accounts and 5 pop-up stores to support expansion into retail and ecommerce
  • Established 3 mono-brand stores in mainland China; 2nd store net sales reached RMB 2.1M in 2019
  • Launched successful Tmall store – profitable within 3 months and gross turnover of RMB 4.65M in first 12 months
  • Built well-functioning and professional local organization to support business development (Retail, Sales, Marketing, Finance & Logistics)
  • Drove strategy and growth initiatives within mainland China through implementation of sales strategies to achieve the sales targets


  • Formulated market-entry strategy and business case for China
  • P&L management and formulation of annual operation and sales budgets
  • Built and developed team of 13 members spread on two offices (Shanghai/Zhenjiang) and two stores (Shanghai)
  • Conducted thorough research on the China region and adapt strategies accordingly
  • Performance management: Set KPI’s, monitor and review performance at all levels
  • Set business goals and assign targets to employees and made sure employees are providing productive results for the company
  • Lead all aspects of revenue stream management including establishing business plans and commercial terms & conditions
  • Network with potential clients and competitors in the market and get business tactics and ideas from them
  • Monitor market trends, competitor activities, and meet with potential clients to identify threats and opportunities
  • Team player: Leverage HQ support teams to meet country objectives


  • Managed retail business expansion, retail operations, and staff in China Market
  • Established physical flagship stores in Shanghai through cooperation with design team, local architect, and construction team
  • Executed partner-based pop-up stores in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Shenzhen
  • Opened permanent partner-based store outside of Shanghai cluster
  • Formulated of China localized contractual terms for retail partners
  • Negotiated favorable leasing terms with shopping malls in Shanghai
  • Merchandizing/Display: Optimization and fine-tuning of Nordic minimalistic expression to suit local demand
  • Maintaining lean inventories for stores. Securing monthly sell through of 20%
  • Mono-brand store customer conversion rate reaching +30% in peak seasons
  • Monitor all store standards ensuring operating procedures
  • Sales training and Team building to ensure best experience and efficient communication to local consumers


  • Built up wholesale business in China through a selected network of accounts
  • Participated in relevant tradeshows during Shanghai fashion week. Bi-annual pre-order meetings with clients
  • Took wholesale business to 3M RMB in two years
  • Account management: Worked closely with partners to achieve budgets and create win-win scenarios with added sqm’s and branded wholesale presence
  • Ensured clients adhered to the merchandising guidelines as set out at the beginning of the sales campaign
  • Utilized NOOS system to ensure consistent flow of goods to clients
  • Set prices according to local standards while ensuring profitable margin rate
  • Create attractive solution for wholesalers for long-term cooperation


  • Establishment of Tmall flagship store through cooperation with TP and Alibaba. Negotiation of favorable deal with TP
  • Profitability of Tmall store within 3 months
  • Participated in 11.11 after 6 months from official store opening reaching RMB 1M for November
  • Developed sales strategies and business plan together with stakeholders
  • Created annual operating plans (Tmall store enhancement projects, marketing calendar & activities, operating budget, etc.)
  • Assisted team to facilitate site merchandising and promotions to drive sales and increase conversion rate
  • Frequent meetings at Alibaba’s HQ to discuss store development and develop new ideas for improvement
  • Coach TP and arrangement of workshops to address challenges and increase performance levels


  • Online brand awareness and exposure through cooperation with PR agency, key e-commerce accounts, KOL’s (influencers), and SoMe accounts (WeChat/Weibo)
  • Alignment of global marketing initiatives into the Chinese calendar
  • Formulated SoMe strategies for local platforms through team effort with local creative team and PR agency
  • Generation of local content for SoMe channels by working closely with local KOL’s and celebrities
  • Set KPI’s for PR Agency and review performance and exposure levels to adjust strategy accordingly

Logisitics/Supply Chain

  • Negotiate terms with 3PL and set up third-party warehouse with full support to all revenue streams
  • Manage orders and deal with customer issues where needed (coordinate deliveries, store operations, payments, re-orders etc)
  • Optimized storage space area on a consistent basis to reduce rent
  • Review monthly reports from 3PL to reduce handling fees


  • Trademark registration: Work with local IP agency to register national Chinese TM’s
  • Copyright infringement, and platform protection (Taobao, Tmall, JD, Alibaba etc.). Responsible for +500 takedowns and clean-up of Chinese fake products on local platforms

schow karlsen art

Shenzhen, China Mar 2012 – present
Schow Karlsen Art is an online art gallery offering personalized paintings based on the wishes of the consumer.

Co-founder, Managing Director

Developed web-shop together with software developer and established production in China. Developed successful business model for customized art-based product categories.

  • Web-shop development: Worked out structure, design, and functionality with 3rd party developer and led the project
  • SEO: Reaching national top 3 for relevant keywords on Google
  • Good understanding of SEO/SMO mechanisms to drive organic and paid traffic
  • User Interface: Designing user-friendly and engaging online shopping environment
  • Operations management: Purchasing, product development and shipping
  • Work with Chinese agent to optimize product quality and lead times

NOVOZYMES— Beijing, China Aug 2010 – Mar 2011
Novozymes is a global leader in the production and R&D of enzyme-based solutions for a wide range of industries seeking to optimize products, production processes, and become more sustainable.

Project Coordinator. Project-based internship in the Marketing Department with focus on marketing seminars and market analysis.

  • Managed projects in conjunction with Marketing and Sales departments
  • Marketing presentations at B2B seminars together with Novozymes’ business partners
  • Research about enzyme capabilities and local market needs


Computer skills

  • MS Office: Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Outlook (Advanced)
  • ERP: Spy System (Advanced)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Intermediate)
  • Google Analytics, Ad-words (Intermediate)
  • Drupal (Beginner)


  • Danish (native)
  • English (fluent)
  • Chinese (fluent)


Aarhus BSS – Aarhus University 2015

Degree: Higher education business management courses
Field: Business Administration and Management, General

Aarhus University 2009-2012

Degree: Master’s degree

Field: Chinese studies

Aarhus University 2005-2009

Degree: Bachelor’s degree

Field: Chinese studies

About me

I am a 35 years old single male, who enjoys spending my spare time playing football, exercising, reading, and of course socializing with my friends and professional network. I have always been engaged with either sporty or creative hobbies, such as football and basketball on club level, while I from an early age spent a lot of time drawing, painting and photography.

Recently, due to increased time pressure from work, I have spent more of my spare time on sports. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to be creative in my work life as well. I always seek out the newest trends in art & fashion, so will visit art museums and interesting retail venues when visiting new cities. Having lived abroad for 11 years, I am highly perceptive of foreign cultures, which helps me navigate better in an international environment. I am now ready for a new adventure and have the freedom and drive to try out a completely new location, if the right opportunity presents itself.