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Berta to Start Georgian Production Sales in Azerbaijan, Armenia Follows

Published: May 9, 2011 | 11:18 am
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Director General: “With Berta we’ve proved that local production is quality production”

Berta, the first Georgian factory of household and personal care products, is entering neighboring countries immediately after startup. The COMMERCIAL TIMES interviewed Vasil Sulkhanishvili, Director General of Berta regarding the company’s very first month’s development in the local market and broader internal and export-related expansion plans.

- It’s only several months that the Georgian-Swiss company Berta started sales. According to the official website, it is the first and the largest manufacturer of household and personal care products in the whole Caucasus Region. How successfully has the company been developing for the start?

- In 2009 we started implementing Berta project actually from zero level. It took us two years to construct the plant and complete all the necessary works for launching production. Official opening of Berta plant was on March 21, 2011.

Thus, we only have one month’s sales data, which proved to exceed expectations. We were very cautious about the so called first impression and got an amazing feedback.

- BERTA is located in the village of Tserovani, Mtskheta District. The plant construction was first planned on the territory of Lilo district, near Tbilisi, though after August events in Georgia it was decided to build the plant in village Tserovani in order to have more focus on employment of IDPs living in the same area. Was this decision risky in terms of the financial performance of the company?

- We did have land purchased in Lilo district, but after the Russo-Georgia war it was decided to construct the plant in Tserovani where IDPs got located. We believe employing these people at Berta plant has been a good social-based decision. As a responsible business we’re committed to be always socially active. We are fully driven by responsibility towards our country and customers in order to listen to, envisage and meet all their requirements.

Our Swiss partners totally supported this decision as they’re aware that Georgia is not an exception and because of different problems social projects are often implemented in European countries as well, including France, Germany, and Great Britain. In France there are some issues with Arabs, in Germany with- Turkey, in Great Britain with-Ireland and integration is the main mission of the social projects in all these countries.

Location change had slight influence on the company’s primary financial estimations, still not vital.

-  What’s the total number of the people employed at Berta plant and how big is the share of IDPs among them?

- In total 250 people work at Berta plant and over 50% are IDPs. We’ve brought foreign experts here to train the local staff. We also employ students; they’ve been with us for 1.5 year already. I’m proud to say that the youth are doing very well and one of them just recently was appointed the head of one of the big production departments at the plant.

Having unique material-technical basis and employing multinational team of professionals, Berta unites wide experience of world’s best-known brands. Highly qualified specialists and technologists are invited in Berta from Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Turkey and Ukraine.

-  USD 35 mln has been invested to implement Berta’s project. Industrial complex of Berta plant is spread over 7 ha of land. What are the additional investments expected and in which direction will the new resources be spent?

- This USD 35 million has been an unprecedented big investment in Georgia. You cannot find an analogue for spending such big money in one single plant project.

In future respect we’re planning more capital investments, the company will also be adding new lines to the existing production and certainly installing more latest technologies.

Currently Berta produces 4 types of products: Personal Care, household cleaning, laundry: powder laundry detergent, liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener, child skin care.

Growth expectations that we’d primarily planned already exceed the preliminary estimations by 60-70%.  Berta has developed strong short-term and long-term expansion plans. We’ll remain stable and consistent in terms of quality both in the local market and export countries, the list of which will be expanding in accordance with relative market demand.

- Who are your main competitors in Georgia and what’s Berta’s advantage in the local market? How big is the company’s current market share?

- Our main competitor is imported production. The biggest challenge is to make local population sure that local production can be as quality as the imported one and from the very start we’ve proved that it’s true with Berta. Georgian people are able to produce premium standard and high-technology products with European partners. With Berta we’ve proved that local production is quality production.

Competition, as a rule, works best for the customer. Since Berta’s entrance in the local market our competitors lowered prices. Local production can do much for the local economy and I’m happy that people understand it and are loyal to quality Georgian brand.

We have distributor contractor companies who are fully satisfied both with our price and quality conditions. No complaints have been received during the one month that Berta has started sales.

Berta sells production throughout whole Georgia, including almost all small and medium size retailers as well as large retail chains.

-  How big is brand awareness as of today? What marketing and PR promotions do you think works best in your field?

- Brand awareness is on a good level now and we’re in the phase when Berta is starting promoting its separate products.  Care Is Love-is the main slogan of Berta.

Being main mission of Berta to be represented in every family of Georgia, Berta’s products target all segments of the population. Our mission declares our purpose as a company to have honor to represent Berta’s product in every family living in Georgia; gain the trust of our population by providing them with natural and high quality products enriched with unique Georgian spring water and flora elements; occupy position of a leader and innovator in this sphere and become transnational company via constant development and strive to perfection.

-  Berta represents the first Georgian factory to launch export of its household and personal care products, and this is planned immediately after startup. What are your plans in terms of export in 2011?

- We’ve already signed export agreement with Azerbaijan and Berta will start sales there shortly. Same is with Armenia, so very soon our company will be presented in two our neighboring countries. For the first stage Berta has selected CIS countries as its main export markets. These are: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Following on the list are several European and Asian countries.

Core principles that Berta follows in customer service are as follows: provision of high quality products, individual approach to each partner, flexible terms of cooperation, and strong focus on meeting customer requirements.

Our vision guides every aspect of our business to popularize Georgian product abroad and establish assurance of quality and sense of security towards it.



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