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Leadership in an era of change

24/03/2021 3 min read

Leadership in an era of change

Reading Time: 3 minute

Maintaining the colleagues’ level of motivation and loyalty, consumers’ adaptation to change in purchasing habits and finding new ways to compensate losses in HoReCa and tourism are top priorities on Peter Szemes’s 2021 agenda, Managing Director of Maresi Hungary.

How did the Maresi business develop in Hungary in 2020?

We had a very good year with sales records. Most brands in our portfolio recorded two digits increases, much over the 6% of the Hungarian fast mover consumer goods (FMCG) market increase. The results were very good, but there were brands that had a more difficult year, under the impulse categories, following the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Which is the Maresi position on the Hungarian market?

We are among the oldest (in 2021 we celebrate our 30th anniversary!) and the greatest distributors of premium brands in Hungary. Most revenues come from the food area and in 2015 we started also distributeing non-food brands with even better sales performances. We are the market leaders on seven different categories, and we cover the entire supply chain, from frozen and refrigerated products to products sold at ambient temperature and non-food products.

How did the company adapt to the new remote work environment?

The transition was very smooth, until half-March, the entire company worked from the home “office”. Since during first pandemic wave there were relatively few cases, we have managed to work from the office until September, when we passed to a hybrid model of online meetings and regular PCR tests, in compliance with new regulations, but also aligned to parent company recommendations, in order to create a safe and sustainable work environment for all colleagues.

“Most brands in our portfolio recorded two digits increases, much over the 6% of the Hungarian fast mover consumer goods (FMCG) market increase.”

PETER SZEMES, Managing Director, Maresi Hungary

Which were pandemic main lessons ?

The most important lesson was to see and understand the extraordinary resilience of our company and the capacity to adapt to a crisis situation, with quick and efficient reactions. I am proud of my colleagues for the rapid adaptation and the availability to co-operate in a challenging period of time and under new circumstances. It was also useful to find out how important both human and personal relationships are both in business, and in private life. It was quite difficult to maintain the motivation of the team under these difficult conditions, but we have managed to cope.

How did you adapt the company strategy to the new conditions?

The first and the most important thing was to provide a safe environment for our colleagues and to guarantee the continuity of the business flow. We have adapted to the new situation by searching newer and newer online shops and sales opportunities, we have changed the way we communicate in marketing and marketing expenses were relocated from offline to online. We feel and understand the need to adapt to the new digital reality and we have started to change and restructure processes and protocols, but it will be a long transition period.

What further challenges do you see for Maresi business in Hungary?

We have many challenges ahead. One would be to maintain our colleagues’ level of motivation and loyalty. Another is to react to the change of purchasing habits and consumers’ expectations. Then, we have to find new ways to compensate for the losses coming from the important decreases recorded in HoReCa and tourism industries. Last but not least, the volatility of the exchange rate must come back to normal levels in order to be able to make more solid plans and estimations.

How do you see the company’s evolution in 2021 and in the long run?

2020 was an extremely difficult year for all FMCG companies in Hungary. The current business environment is unstable and unpredictable, and everything depends on how the European States will manage the pandemic in order to be able to restart the economy at the fastest possible pace. We also look carefully at new possibilities that help us grow and develop the business as planned.

Translation Supported by AB Traduceri

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