Oleg Antonenko, Aisberg: We are grateful to our partners for their support, which today is so important not only for us, but also for all Ukraine

Oleg Antonenko, Aisberg: We are grateful to our partners for their support, which today is so important not only for us, but also for all Ukraine

20.10.2022 09:00
Іван Зайцев

Open a new high-tech factory in Odessa during the war? Done! The general director of one of the leading Ukrainian manufacturers of refrigeration equipment about the reasons for such a decision, work on foreign markets in war conditions, solving problems with imports and much more.

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– Tell us about the new Aisberg factory – what is its capacity, what does it specialize in, when it was put into operation? Why did you decide to open it, despite the situation: shelling throughout Ukraine, high probability of damage, difficulties with the supply of raw materials and components, halting the development of trade chains, etc.

– Aisberg started its own production program in 2003 with the production of multi-compressor refrigerating units and semi-vertical refrigerating cabinets. Step by step we mastered production technologies and developed new types of products. What is very important – we developed the products independently, based on our own experience in sales and operation of European equipment since 1989. Later, a significant shortage of production space began to be felt, and difficulties arose with internal logistics. Moving to a new location and opening a new factory completely solved this problem.

All was prepared in advance, the equipment park was updated. Now at the new factory has installed a new line for the production of cases for refrigerating cabinets made of polyurethane foam, new metal powder coating chambers, and the metalworking section has been partially updated. The assembly areas have been significantly expanded. Internal logistics have been improved. At the same time, the perspective for the expansion of production technologies is laid.

The biggest problem was the transportation of all technological processes without stopping production. This work was done in stages, over several months, so the products were manufactured and shipped on time. We didn’t stop work. The final stages of the move and launch were carried out already in March, when there was a possibility that an enemy landing force from the Black Sea could land on the shores of Odessa. And the first products of the new plant were anti-tank hedgehogs.

There are quite a lot of problems, but we have learned to overcome them. First of all, it is the fear of our export partners to make advance payments. A significant part of working capital goes to compensate this. Secondly, a decrease in the credit capabilities from suppliers of materials and components. VAT refund. A significant decrease in orders from large Ukrainian retailers, which Aisberg was targeting in its work in the domestic market.

However, the personnel potential of the company has been fully preserved, despite the move to a new location and the general situation related to the state of war in the country.

– Who is this plant aimed at: Ukrainian market or export? To which countries do you supply equipment?

– We maintain parity in supplies for export and the domestic market in order to maintain a balance with VAT. The demand for equipment in Ukraine has changed, and in a few months we have developed a new line of refrigerated display cases with a built-in unit for small-format stores. Now this is the main format that is developing in Ukrainian retail, and mainly in the west of Ukraine.

As for export, now the main customers are our long-standing partners. These are those who are ready to entrust the opening of their business and their money to a company located in a war-torn territory. During the war, Aisberg supplied equipment to the USA, Georgia, Czech Republic, Kuwait, Belgium, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Armenia. We are grateful to our partners for their support. Today it is so important not only for our company, but also for Ukraine in general. In September, we reached the pre-war volume of production and from October we plan to increase it.

– How do you solve problems with the import of components and equipment? And at the same time – with the export of finished products?

– Today there are no problems with import or export from logistics part. The main problem is the cost of this logistics. Deliveries of Aisberg refrigerated displays go along Odesa-Reni route to Romania and further through the ports of Romania. We do not see any problems with components and materials. But the increase in the price of logistics both for the import of components and materials and for the export of finished products makes our equipment less competitive.

– One of the key advantages of Aisberg has always been the possibility of individual developments according to the wishes of a specific client. How much is such a service in demand now?

– In our production strategy, we relied on the shortage of customized products that exist in the market for individual trading solutions that distinguish our customers’ stores from those of competitors. This engineering and design potential of Aisberg remains the main driving force in marketing decisions. Our company has always developed and manufactured equipment according to individual orders, taking into account the individual characteristics of the project, and this is not just the color of the decoration.

However, we have now developed a line of serial semi-vertical displays with built-in units for Ukrainian market. These displays are also interesting for dealers, because small format stores are now actively developing not only in Ukraine.

At the same time, projects with individual technical solutions are, as before, the main part of Aisbergs’ orders.

Diagonal display line, the design of which was developed in 2015 and first presented at Euroshop, international exhibition in Germany, is very perspective. The use of this line of equipment for export in stores with a high level of customer service is especially interesting.

– What general trends in the refrigeration equipment market can you highlight – both in Ukraine and on export markets? What is happening and what should retailers pay attention to?

– Each market segment has its own trends. Displays with built-in units mean cost minimization, supply from the warehouse, and simplification of construction and materials. It is possible to note the trend of the development of local trade chains, which maximally take into account the preferences of their customers for the products of local manufacturers. In the markets of European countries and, for example, Gulf countries, there are geographically different trends in the development of trade formats, but absolutely everywhere there is development after the stagnation of COVID.

– Do you have future plans to participate in exhibitions where Aisberg products will be presented? How do foreign partners perceive products made in Ukraine?

– Aisberg has already participated in EuroShop exhibition in Germany five times. It is the most popular forum for the retail market in the world. And Aisberg was the first who presented Ukrainian refrigeration equipment to the global retail market there – back in 2008. We are considering the possibility of participation in EuroShop-2023.

The war in Ukraine, on the one hand, brought enormous difficulties, and on the other hand, made Ukraine famous with a desire to support us. Currently, we need as much as possible to convey confidence in the victory of Ukraine to our foreign partners. Since the beginning of the war, we have supported our army. We manufacture equipment for food storage in field conditions, complexes for food preparation and sanitary needs of the military. The main thing is that we are sure of our victory. This is the mood of all employees and our suppliers. And all our customers too!

Read more –

Ergonomics and unique design: Aisberg at EuroShop Trade Fair 2017

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