Interview with Dobrin Dobrev, Commercial Director of ELMARK GROUP

BusinessSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 3/2007

We plan to open a second office - in Belgrade

How long have you being doing business with Serbia?

At the end of 2005 our company managers decided to establish a subsidiary in the Republic of Serbia and the first sales of ELMARK products by the newly founded company ELMARK GROUP D.O.O. were made practically in February 2006.

Can you, please, describe the specifics and organization of your business in Serbia?

The main office of the company is located in the town of Kragujevac. This town was chosen as a result of the analysis of the transportation and geographic specifics of the region. The storage and office areas rented by the company amount to more than 180 square meters and the number of full-time employees with labor agreements is six; besides, the services of part-time employees are used as well. Until now our subsidiary in Serbia has built a distribution network all over the country but it has higher concentration in the south parts of the country.

What were your grounds to start business in Serbia?

The basic reason to decide in favor of the establishment of a company in Serbia was our five-year-long experience in the countries of Eastern Europe and the ambition to build commercial networks in the republics of former Yugoslavia.

Did you conduct any preliminary market surveys?

The leading criteria for market assessment were the indicators specified as a result of the marketing activities conducted by a team of company managers. The analysis clearly showed there were favorable signs for possible fast establishment of a high quality distribution network for realization of the products we offer.

Are you doing business on other markets in the region?

ELMARK catalogue is distributed in Serbia as well as in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro and before the end of this year will be distributed in the Republic of Croatia as well. A custom-free warehouse was built and registered for this purpose to serve the transit of goods. The main target of the distributing companies is the foundation and development of sales networks in the respective countries and for the purpose of achieving this target they receive marketing support on contractual basis. Beside the distributing companies the Commercial manager of the company also maintains regular communications with the customers in these countries.

What makes your business activity in Serbia different in comparison with your business activity in Bulgaria and the rest of countries you are directly working with?

There are many differences. The main difference is the centralized servicing of our customers in Serbia out of a single office. Differences can be pointed out in the competitive environment as well. Our main brand competitors are trademarks of established local producers with long tradition of market presence. Another difference is that payments are executed by bank transfer only.

What is the situation with the human resources in Serbia?

Regarding the situation in the Republic of Serbia as a whole currently there is a high percentage of unemployment as a result of the initial stage of the country’s transition to market economy. This allows recruiting qualified personnel.

What is more specific about your customers in Serbia?

As a whole the customers in this branch are small capacity commercial and engineering companies, therefore the commercial and storage areas are small and not very well built. This in turn leads to small orders and short execution periods. Big transactions are concluded as a result of participation in tenders and public procurement orders; it has to be noted that the companies announcing them are still state owned.

The quality of the sales process and the satisfaction of the customers are guaranteed by the ISO 9001:2000 certificate issued to the company by the Quality Austria Company from Vienna. Meeting the strict criteria for quality control of the products offered is guaranteed by the Declaration of Conformity of all company products issued by the Technical University in the town of Chachak.

What are your future plans for growth on the Serbian market?

Our plans are to expand our activity in the nearest future by opening a second office in the capital Belgrade. At the beginning it will serve as a show room only and we hope it will later develop into an accomplished distributing center. This decision was made as a result of additional analyses showing very high concentration of companies, which are our potential partners. Another path of growth is the establishment of a new department to deal with the industrial sector as a share of the market of electrotechnical equipment.

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