Interview with Bogdan Łukasik, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Modern-Expo Group

Tuesday, 24 April, 2018 Food From Poland 31/2018
The year 2017 was certainly very important for the development of Modern-Expo Group – the noticeable participation in the EuroShop trade fair in Dusseldorf, the announcement of cooperation with Schweitzer, the opening of a factory in Vitebsk, and finally a new factory and headquarters in Lublin...
The year 2017 was certainly very important for the development of Modern-Expo Group – the noticeable participation in the EuroShop trade fair in Dusseldorf, the announcement of cooperation with Schweitzer, the opening of a factory in Vitebsk, and finally a new factory and headquarters in Lublin...

The year 2017 was really intense, but at the same time very successful for the entire group. First of all, we have met all sales targets, as a result of which we can implement further investments. We have also concluded two investments that we have talked about for a long time – one in Belarus as the foundation of our position on the Eurasia, Russia and Kazakhstan markets and the second in Poland for our European partners. Meanwhile, with reference to the EuroShop trade fair, it is worth emphasizing that this is the ‚Olympic Games’ for us, for which we had been preparing for a long time, and in 2017 we were most definitely rewarded with a medal. Our stand was distinguished not only by its visual design but, above all, by the products we displayed. For the first time at a trade fair, Modern-Expo presented itself as an innovative company offering chiefly intelligent solutions. However, they were not only conceptual solutions, but by and large solutions that were ready for sale. As for the factory in Lublin, it turns out that it is progressively becoming too small. At the moment, we are already working on a project to expand it with new production floors. We also moved our offices to the new headquarters. We tried to do so in a very modern, yet modest fashion. First and foremost, these offices are to be functional and employee-friendly, because their work effect in successes achieved by the company.

Looking at the development of the company so far, this probably isn’t the end of investments...

Further investments will certainly be implemented in Poland. One of the most important investment phenomenon is investment in other entities that we acquired last year, and this year we are planning further acquisitions. Acquisition is definitely a new direction in the development of the company. In fact, it was only a year ago that we decided to take over companies which have specific competences. In general, the idea is to shorten the time it takes to reach certain solutions. We know which expertise we have and which are expected from the market – whether it is competence in the field of design or competence in the field of IT, or in the areas of new technologies or robotics. These competences are built over a relatively long period, which is why we have decided to acquire other entities. The negotiations are quite advanced, but at the moment I can only say that one such company is located in Eastern Europe and another in Western Europe. We are currently working on both acquisitions. I think it may be a surprise for the market.

What are the new retail solutions introduced by Modern-Expo Group in the recent period that you are particularly proud of? Which of them have been fully introduced into trade and which are in the testing stage?

Virtually all solutions that we presented at the EuroShop are currently in the process of commercialisation. Both our flagship product, i.e. Fresh Box and Click&Collect, are solutions that are currently being tested by many customers. We have some implementations in the postal segment, which is new for us, and the product is constantly being improved by our team of engineers. The innovation that we are currently developing in this product is an automatic cooling system for each individual cell. It is associated with huge energy savings and high flexibility. This is a complete novelty on a global scale because usually entire boxes are chilled. Another product we talked about are smart shelves. At the moment, this product is already patented, so we are prepared for mass production. Other pilot projects are also under way. However, at the moment we are focusing mainly on the issue of software and extensive functionality based on the latest technologies and solutions in the cloud. We aspire to the global launch of this product from day one.

You are the leader in the field of store equipment in Central and Eastern Europe, but you are not limited to this market...

The fact based on figures is that our products have gained a foothold. However, I have often said that our aspirations are much bigger. Our next short-term goal is the leading position in Europe. Meanwhile, the long-term goal is to achieve the leader position, which we can do only through realization of projects on the global market. However, we constantly assume the position to think globally while maintaining a local strategy. We want to be very well-rooted in local conditions. This is why we have branches in every country in Europe and we are opening more. We currently cooperate with entities that are global players and receive from them invitations for cooperation in Asia, India and America. By receiving these types of offers, we make investment decisions about opening new offices or companies. Therefore, I think that the current 9 branches that we have is not the end and soon more will be established.

So you are already a global player?

Yes we are. We deliver products to over 60 countries around the world and cooperate with global companies. Even if we look at it in terms of classification of suppliers – through global companies, especially from the FMCG industry – then if a company operates in two or more regions, it already automatically receives the status of ‘Global Supplier’; meanwhile, we operate in the regions of Eastern, Central and Western Europe. In addition, we also operate in the Middle East and North Africa, and last year we also completed the first deliveries to America. We don’t neglect Poland either. I believe that our products should be in every Polish store and this is not just wishful thinking, but a deep conviction that they are simply the best, both in terms of quality and functionality.

You equip the largest retail chains both in Poland and worldwide. Can the owners of smaller retail stores also benefit from the Modern-Expo offer? How can they get information and choose the right range of equipment?

We never divide our customers into the worse and the better. We value each and every one of them. Especially that we really and truly grew out of a small trading company and it was thanks to small entities that we were able to build our company. So the owners of smaller stores are always welcome. Of course, our product structure has changed a bit, as well as the way of servicing these customers. They can use our services directly through contact with the branches located in chosen part of the world, but also I want to remind you that we have more than 45 partners who distribute our products. Therefore, our products can also be purchased through the dealer network.

Recent significant projects and plans for this year...

Our greatest success was the venture in Dubai, where, for the first time, Modern-Expo also carried out construction work. We took over the responsibility of managing the entire project, i.e. laying tiles, organizing lighting and, of course, providing the full range of equipment. The project was extremely difficult, because the entire project management rested on our shoulders, but it was a complete success. As a result, we received 7 more hypermarkets that we will be realizing in the coming months. It is a 2-year plan being implemented in the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, we received an invitation from other companies in that region to take on the organization and implementation of such projects. Undoubtedly, this is one of the biggest successes, because it was a immense challenge and few companies in the world would be able to cope with these types of project. Certainly, yet another is the fact that we have worked out the leader position in the production of checkout counters and practically all of retail chains in Europe have invited us to participate in the development of new concepts. This is special for us because we were not invited merely to take part in a tender where we are to submit an offer, but we were requested to develop a product together with them. Participation in such preparations where we are able to share our experience, such as the organization of the checkout area, gives us great satisfaction, and when we create a product, and based on our design other companies are invited to take part in the tender – this is an enormous pleasure. Our self-checkout counters, which were presented as a novelty at the EuroShop trade fair, can now be seen in stores. They are working great and I must admit that we are preparing further versions. We are also working on dedicated solutions, which may soon be quite a surprise for the Polish market, because individual store chains have decided to implement our self-checkouts. We have obtained the feedback of recent research, to the effect of 98% of recognisability, which is actually a phenomenal result and creates a very good insight into the future, where we will truly be able to forget about the checkout area and queues. I hope that we will be the first company in the world that will effectively implement artificial intelligence in trade, which our clients will be able to use and thus generate greater profits.

Thank you

tagi: Bogdan Łukasik , Modern-Expo Group ,