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Vitaly Nikolaevich, according to the results of the last year OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" was ranked among the winners of the "Best Exporter" contest held by the BelCCI. How did the restrictions of the last and the current year affect the company activities? How did you manage to successfully maintain export positions?
2020 was indeed a challenging year both for people and the global economy. As for the company, it functioned as usual. Thanks to the replenishment of our stock of raw stuff and materials before the closure of the borders, the production rhythm was not disturbed.
We continued to supply our products to those countries that left this opportunity. Among them were mainly Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Moldova. As for the Belarusian market, sales volumes did not fall either. On the contrary, there was even a slight increase.
As for the marketing policy, in 2020 the company planned to participate in major international exhibitions in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan to demonstrate new collections and conclude supply contracts. But these plans underwent dramatic changes due to the threat of coronavirus. All exhibitions were postponed for a year.
In early February, the company managed to successfully declare itself at one of the most famous international exhibitions of ceramics and finishing materials in Valencia, Spain, presenting its new collections of tiles. Trading companies from such countries as the USA, Slovenia, Benin, Oman, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Iraq, and Spain showed interest in our products. At the same time, companies from those countries to which deliveries are already being made – from Poland, Russia and Ukraine – confirmed their interest.
Ceramic tiles of OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" are in demand due to the competitive price, high-class production, extremely wide assortment, active development of new technologies, and also because the company takes into account changing preferences of consumers.
Every year, the company achieves high performance in the production of goods and their quality, therefore it receives worthy state and international assessment. The plant's products have been repeatedly recognized as the winner of the republican contest "The Best Construction Product of the Year". The enterprise became a laureate of the Government Prize of the Republic of Belarus in the field of quality for the achievement of significant results of production activities and the competitiveness of products, the introduction of innovative technologies and modern management methods. We were also awarded the title of the winner of the contest "For the best achievement in the construction industry in the Republic of Belarus" in the category "Exporter of the Year", and of course, as you've mentioned, the title of "Best Exporter of 2020" in the category "Construction and Production of Construction Materials".
All this helps us not only to maintain, but also to increase export performance even in the pandemic.
What is the geography of foreign deliveries of the company? What activities are being carried out in the field of export diversification? How does OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" hold its market position in the countries where the BERYOZA CERAMICA brand is already known and loved?
The company is making every effort to expand the geography of sales, thereby striving to increase the share of the export component in the total sales volume. Today, OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" exports its products to 16 countries, including Russia (75 percent of the total volume of exports), Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Lithuania, Poland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and others.
We try to work in two directions: we gain a foothold in the already conquered markets and look for new ones. We participate in exhibitions, study contemporary trends in the tile market. We are working closely with customer requests and expanding the existing range of sizes.
The ceramic tile market is quite competitive. And Italian companies are traditionally the trendsetters on it. How do you manage to compete with European manufacturers? How to predict what will be in demand on world markets in the near future?
Let's start with the fact that in the terms of technological level of production OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" is at the level of leading manufacturers of this type of product. Today, the enterprise is equipped with modern high-tech equipment of the Italian company SACMI. The company buys raw stuff and materials for production in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, and other European countries. We have mastered the most advanced digital printing technology by installing digital decorating machines on our ceramic tile production lines. At the same time, the company's products are competitive in price.
To understand what is in demand, the company's specialists conduct a thorough analysis of the market. Of course, visiting of specialized exhibitions plays an important role. At the exhibition, like nowhere else, the processes taking place on the market, the types and range of changes, as well as the direction and pace of future development, become obvious.
"Keramin" is also a well-known power brand. How do you manage to compete with them?
The comparison of the ceramic tiles produced by our enterprise with the products of our main competitors, in particular "Keramin", in the same price category shows that the tiles produced by "Beryozastroymaterialy" are not inferior in quality and consumer performance. Therefore, in this case the buyer is the one to choose, and we do our best to satisfy their needs. The design of ceramic tiles is truly the decisive factor.
Thanks to an innovative approach, focus on quality, new design and format concepts, as well as constant collection updates, OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" is among the leaders of Belarusian construction industry.
"Beryozastroymaterialy" is the only manufacturer of tiles for swimming pools in Belarus. And this is one of our unique features. We have been manufacturing this product since 2011. It's highly resistant to moisture, mechanical damage and very durable due to the anti-slip coating.
The modernization of production also allows the enterprise to reach the leading market positions. To date, we are implementing a project to commission an additional line of large-format facing tiles with a capacity of 2.5 million square meters per year. We are planning to put it into operation at the end of next year. The first stage of this project is now close to completion. A new ATM-52 spray tower will be launched in November to provide powder for the existing production lines, taking into account technological diversification and making room for new production opportunities.
What is the range of products manufactured today?
OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" is primarily associated with a varied assortment of tiles for interior facing of walls and floor with eye-catching decoration elements. The main task of the company is to offer its customers a unique product with an unmatched and stylish design, which is distinguished not only by aesthetics but also by high quality. The plant's capacity exceeds 12 million square meters of ceramic tiles per year.
Today, one can buy tiles of any color and shade, decorated to look like wood, metal, textiles, aged or polished material. The consumer has no choice limits. Therefore, "Beryozastroymaterialy" OJSC has always devoted special attention to optimizing the product grid and further assortment renewal. To do this, we are constantly analyzing our sales by region, collection and format.
In each collection created by our designers, we strive to mirror what the modern buyer needs. We are putting much effort to improve the quality of our products.
Modern trends and technologies are frequently changing in such spheres as construction and interior design. How do you manage to study and implement new technologies?
We are continuously studying the relevant innovations in the production of ceramic tiles. For this purpose, the company's specialists attend international exhibitions, seminars and conferences. As I have already noted, when visiting specialized exhibitions, we get the understanding which direction the industry is facing, since exhibitions set trends in tile designs and formats.
Then the company experts follow up with developing designs, studying the necessary raw materials and equipment to create the relevant effects and launch the design on the production line.
During the development of the design, a prototype is created, after which a test release of a small batch is made to investigate the presence of possible problems or difficulties that may arise during the production process.
In order to get an opinion and assessment from both partners and ordinary consumers, to study the demand for new collections, as well as to take into account current market trends, all newly-designed products are first demonstrated at exhibitions, after which they are improved and mass production is launched.
Currently, the focus is on the environmental properties of building materials. Does the company take this trend into account?
Definitely. For the production of our ceramic tiles we use raw materials of natural origin. Each batch of raw materials is certified with a safety data sheet. All finished products are annually tested for specific effective activity of natural radionuclides.
Our products are certified and meet the requirements of both the European Standard EN 14411-2012 and the interstate GOST 13996-2019. The high level of manufacturing process management is confirmed by certificates of compliance of management systems.
Could you summarize 2021 operation results? Have you managed to reach your targets for this year? What are your plans and development forecast for the year to come? Are there any plans for new items to appear in the catalogue?
Our company is currently working on a large-scale investment project. The idea is to increase the capacity of the mass procurement department; increase the production of large-format facing ceramic tiles on a new line that meets European standards; maintain and increase export supplies to the markets of neighboring countries, primarily Russia; raise the efficiency of the enterprise and ensure financial health. To date, the implementation of this project is proceeding strictly according to plan.
The range of products manufactured is updated annually, and we place all new items in our main catalogue and on our website bsm.by. In this catalogue for 2022, OJSC "Beryozastroymaterialy" has presented about 150 collections of ceramic tiles of various formats and textures produced under the BERYOZA CERAMICA brand. Those who prefer the popular Scandinavian style, fans of Classics and Provence, adherents of fashionable loft-, country- or patchwork-style will all find products to their liking.