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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 28, 2011
Business & Economy
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Polish-Czech Challenge
April 28, 2011   
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Robert Ágh, president of Ferona SA, talks to Magdalena £asak about the company’s expansion in Poland.

Why was Ferona Polska SA established?
Five years ago the management board of Ferona AS decided to expand the company to the Polish market. The Czech parent company is Central and Eastern Europe’s biggest distributor of metallurgical goods. Its development possibilities on the domestic market were limited by then. Meanwhile, the dispersed Polish market was the ideal place to develop the company’s capacity. Of course, the group took advantage of its purchasing potential. Initially, the business plan assumed the company would become one of the top 10 distributors in Poland within five years. However, the crisis of 2009 put us off our stride somewhat. Today, though, we are back on track and according to a PUDS [Polish Union of Steel Distributors] league table we are in 13th place in Poland in terms of profit generated for 2010. Poland was also chosen for the proximity of the purchase centers located here. After all, Cracow, D±browa Górnicza, Ostrava, Zawiercie and Trinec are really very close to one another. The friendly attitude the two nations have toward each other and our similar languages mean fewer problems with running the company. I have long been fascinated by Poland, so for me personally it was the ideal challenge and I took it on with great enthusiasm.

How does the experience of Ferona AS help in winning new markets in Poland?
The Czech parent company is more than 180 years old. It is quite a conservative company that focuses on the quality of the goods it sells and the services it provides. We decided we would transfer these principles to the Polish market, and the effects are already visible. First and foremost, we don’t buy goods from untried suppliers, and every kilogram of steel is stored indoors. The Polish and Czech markets are different. The Czech Ferona has 16 warehouses in a country several times smaller than Poland, so access to materials is very prompt there. Ferona is a major player on the Czech market, where there is practically no competition. In Poland, on the other hand, the biggest distributor holds less than 10 percent of the market, so sales methods have to be totally different. The experienced staff, the top-class experts that I have hired, know the Polish market through and through and are handling this tough situation extremely well.

What are the development plans for the Polish company?
Right now we have a warehouse in Mys³owice. That is also where the head office is. We also have four sales offices, in Wroc³aw, £ód¼, Kielce and Poznañ. We are opening another office in Toruñ in mid-2011. By the end of the year we plan to increase our warehouse space by another 3,500 sq m, giving us a total of 14,000 sq m. Our sales plans will slowly approach 100,000 metric tons of steel per year. We don’t want to go too fast, because to us financial security is the most important factor determining purchases and sales. We insure 100 percent of our transactions, and this will certainly continue. Further plans are a secret for now, but I can say they are very ambitious.
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