On the meaning of exports in the development plans of WIŚNIOWSKI and the direction of changes dictated by exports, as well as on strategies which give access to sweeping new markets – Krystyna Baran, President of the Management Board at WIŚNIOWSKI.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “the company’s development strategy”?
Europe. Foreign Markets. I don’t think I spent more than half a second planning how to answer the question. If the company’s strategy could be described by one word only, then I would say that word would be “Europe”. I believe that it’s a key word for us nowadays, because while on the one hand it can sound like a generalization, it actually contains everything of most importance for us now. For ten years so much has been said about Poland being a part of Europe, that we belong to the great European family, that our country has a chance which, at some point in time, was given to others. Surely, for many it’s Brussel newspeak, some courteous words or even empty talk which does not mean much. However, let me tell you something different: for an entrepreneur like Andrzej Wiśniowski, it means a lot! You just need, behind all the talk and declarations made, to get a glimpse of that very meaning. Since we have been invited to an economic union and many foreign countries successfully do business in Poland, then nothing prevents us from looking for our own place in the European markets.
Andrzej Wiśniowski said that WIŚNIOWSKI sells 70% of its goods in Poland and only 30% are exported. He also added that reversing these proportions is one of the most important tasks which you have set yourself for the following years.
That is true, this exactly describes the situation. However, please note that the information only seems to be not good for us. I say seems because, as a result, it becomes obvious that the European markets should be the natural direction for the company’s expansion. Reversing the sales proportion of the company is our long-term goal. We wish to achieve it under one essential condition – we must at the same time ensure our domestic sales also increase. If you put it in numbers – and to me, as an economist, the numbers always speak the loudest – then at the end of this year we want our relation of domestic sales to exports to be 35% to 65% with a constant domestic sales increase of 17%.
An ambitious task but is it feasible?
We have always set ambitious goals and I can’t imagine us, the management body, meeting and saying: OK, we’ve achieved so much that now we can relax a little; it’s not like we have to prove anything to anyone anymore. Far from it. Mostly, we need to prove ourselves that we are able to achieve ambitious goals, that the team of people that we’ve built can succeed not only in Poland but also as we expand into new markets. On the one hand, building our position in Europe is a real business task while on the other it is also a great adventure. Many people on our team engage in the task with great passion, treating it as a personal challenge and not just a target to be added to their priorities.
Where does all this optimism come from? If sweeping new European markets was so easy, then the world would be packed with Polish products, and this is not the case.
Optimism has been our state of our mind for 25 years now. And here I must make a small reservation: one needs to differentiate optimism from excessive optimism. What is the difference? When it comes to business, a substantial one. We base our optimism on the real market situation and economic indexes. Firstly, we have a high quality product. Secondly, for 25 years we have put a lot of work and effort into building the brand and our market position. Having such bases, we can optimistically assume that the subsequent steps in our development will also be successful.
Mostly, we need to prove to ourselves that we are able to achieve ambitious goals, that the team of people which we’ve built can succeed not only in Poland but also expand into new markets.
(…) now we are the ones establishing the solutions, trends and imposing the pace of the industry. It’s very edifying and motivating to see that it is our stall, or rather a display pavilion, in Munich or Milan to which all eyes and attention of the sector are turned.
Takie założenia wystarczą do planowania ekspansji na europejskie rynki?
I emphasised that these were just the basics, the foundations of planning. In order to sweep Europe at the pace we have set, we had to make an effort and evaluate the markets where we wish to sell our products. We have undertaken the required research and we have at our disposal detailed analyses on the specifics of each given market. It is obvious that in one cultural field there is a certain and dominant aesthetic in the construction industry and the other characterises with different customer preferences. Some put design first, others see functionality, technological advancement or reliability under certain weather conditions as the most important qualities. This is what we had to learn about our prospective customers in order to offer our products in Europe.
And what does Europe know about WIŚNIOWSKI products?
Every year it learns more, and with every trade fairs it wants to learn more. We try to be present during all largest construction fairs in Europe. As we have attended these fairs for a dozen or so years I can relate my own personal experience. So, years ago we used to go to fairs partly to spy on our competition, observe trends in the industry and learn. Today I can honestly say that we are now the ones establishing the solutions, trends and imposing the pace of the industry. It’s very edifying and motivating to see that it is our stall, or rather a display pavilion, in Munich or Milan to which all eyes and attention of the sector are turned. If this sounds too serious, please bring me back to earth, but I’m convinced that after being present in the market for 25 years we represent Polish technological thought without inhibitions towards Europe and the aesthetics of our products sets new directions. Is that not enough to think seriously of our place in Europe?
Interviewer: Aneta Szymczyk-Miraś