SALAMANDER started exporting footwear to Eastern Europe, including the former USSR, back in 1985. In October 1993, she was one of the first to open an office in Russia. Now SALAMANDER stores are in all Russian millionaires: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Omsk and Kazan. All this time, the Russian office of the company was headed by Henry Perrey. At the end of December, he leaves the post of General Director of LLC Salamander in Russia and transfers his powers to Yuliy Kulikov, who has been in the company's management for more than 10 years and who will head the company from January 1, 2011. What traditions will remain in the company and what new directions will appear in connection with the change of top management?
- Yuliy Vitalievich, what tasks do you consider to be of the highest priority?
- The main task: keeping all the best, move forward. In 2009, SALAMANDER GmbH was acquired by ara Shoes AG, this opened up new opportunities for the development of the brand in the Russian shoe market. We will make every effort to ensure that the SALAMANDER brand takes its rightful place.
- How do you assess the Russian shoe market? What risks and opportunities do you see?
- The Russian shoe market remains one of the most closed. Nevertheless, we see that in recent years it has been steadily developing towards greater civilization. It should be noted that we have not yet reached a level of consumption commensurate with the European level. In this we see the growth potential of the Russian shoe market.
With the growth of people's well-being, the demands of customers on the quality of shoes and the level of service increase. Buyers pay more attention to the brand. In this we also see our chance, since we present on the market excellent shoes of the middle price segment, as well as a service focused on the maximum satisfaction of consumer needs. At the same time, the SALAMANDER brand has enjoyed well-deserved confidence among customers for many years.
- What is currently hindering the development of the market?
- If we are talking about the development of retail trade, then first of all it is constrained by the shortage of high-quality retail space in Moscow and the Russian regions and, as a result, high rental rates. Fortunately, staff turnover is not a problem for us, since it is at a very low level in our stores. Although in recent years we have faced the problem of a shortage of qualified sellers for retail in Moscow.
- On the eve of the crisis, we talked about the fact that buyers have three main strategies: buy less, buy less, buy shoes from another, cheaper segment. How is consumer behavior changing now?
- Consumers who are accustomed to high-quality goods and good services are not ready to completely refuse them and go, for example, to clothing markets. Nevertheless, the number of purchases and the average check during the crisis decreased (in the regions to a greater extent than in Moscow). Starting in September 2010, we are witnessing a recovery in demand for more expensive shoes of the current collection. We can say that demand is approaching the pre-crisis level. By the way, not a single SALAMANDER store was closed due to the crisis in Russia. And now I can say that we have successfully overcome the consequences of the global financial crisis and have maintained a good base for a new stage of development. The well-known and trusted brand SALAMANDER, an excellent collection of shoes in stores located in good places, a clear concept and qualified sellers - all that is necessary for steady growth. This is all we have.
- In your opinion, which segment will grow in 2011 - men's, women's, children's shoes - faster than others?
- We do not expect a noticeable redistribution of demand between segments. Women will continue to be the most active consumers, with the restoration of consumer demand, it is they who increasingly make purchases.
- How many stores are currently part of your distribution network? How will you develop it further - through a franchise or your own retail?
- The own federal network SALAMANDER LLC Salamander in Russia has 27 stores. In addition, 24 franchising store SALAMANDER was opened in the regions. Further development of the SALAMANDER network is planned, first of all, through the expansion of its own retail network.
- How do you describe Salamander's target audience now?
- Our customer - at the age of 25 years and older, prefers quality and convenience, has a stable income. More than 80% of all buyers make a repeat purchase with us and become regular customers. And we greatly value the confidence they place on the SALAMANDER brand.
- How do you assess what share in the family budget of the Russian family is spent on shoes?
- Since the income spread between Moscow and the regions of Russia is very high, it is difficult to estimate the average share in the family budget attributable to the purchase of shoes. It can be noted that residents of Russia on average buy 2 pairs of shoes a year.
- According to various surveys, SALAMANDER shoes are still one of the most recognizable brands in Russia. What do you think, due to which such brand recognition was ensured, how do you maintain customer loyalty?
- High recognition of the SALAMANDER brand in Russia arose even in the Soviet Union, when SALAMANDER shoes were delivered in millions of pairs a year (unfortunately, only a few models were delivered from the wide collection then). All these years, SALAMANDER shoes have enjoyed well-deserved love among consumers, primarily because of their convenience and durability. On these models, many today still make up their mind about SALAMANDER shoes.
- What do you consider the competitive advantages of SALAMANDER now?
- A well-deserved trust in the brand, proven over the years, a good collection with reasonable prices, attention to every customer - that’s why customers come back to us.
- What definition would you give to such a concept as “customer focus”. Do you consider your company customer-oriented - in what and how exactly is this manifested?
- “For us there is nothing more important than our customers” - this is the main rule of SALAMANDER. This is manifested in everything: in the thoughtful interior of the stores, in the layout of the goods, in attention to each buyer, accompanied by the buyer during his stay in the store, in providing all the necessary information, including about the arrival of a new collection and ongoing promotions.
- In your opinion, in modern Russian conditions, is it possible to calculate the costs of attracting one new customer, to retain him and return if necessary?
- Attracting a new buyer through advertising or discounts is only part of the task. It’s much harder to keep him. And this is possible only when his needs are completely satisfied, which in turn is impossible without a good product offer and attentive service, in a word, without all that is our daily work.
- What does the European office of SALAMANDER live now, how is the company's business developing as a whole?
- Everyone is looking forward to the release of the updated complete SALAMANDER collection. Children's and men's lines are already on the market. In February 2011, the premiere of the complete SALAMANDER collection is expected, which will be available for ordering at specialized shoe exhibitions.
For your information:
The history of SALAMANDER began with a shoe workshop, which was opened in 1885 by Jacob Siegle in Kornwestheim. After 6 years, in 1897, he, teamed up with Max Levy, a businessman from Stuttgart, created a company called J. Sigle und Cie. In 1904, the patented Salamander brand appeared, and shortly afterwards, a large shoe factory in Kornwestheim. By 1909, the company has already opened 26 own stores. And in 1914, 2880 employees produce more than 2 million pairs of shoes. In 1927, Salamander brand shoes are represented in 123 countries. In 1937, the first batch of Lurchi brand children's shoes appears. In 1967, 17,8 thousand employees worldwide produce 13,5 million pairs of shoes. The following years became critical for the company due to the expansion of foreign shoe manufacturers in the German market. Since the 80's, the company has been winning one line after another. The 90s are marked by modernization, for example, a new unified store design is being created, and the first specialized store in Munich appears. The company's position in the international market is being strengthened. At the beginning of the XXI century, the company, having survived the change of several owners, continued its sustainable development.
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