Q: How would you best describe HL Display’s activity in 2017?
Alexandru Chiru: HL Display had and still has, a major 2017. Our activity grew, our projects and our partners activity grew, so we can best describe HL Display activity by the words “growth” and “increase” when it comes to talk about 2017.
Q: As we’ve seen a huge jump in consumption in 2017, mainly due to the wage increases, how did your clients use HL Display solutions to capture a higher proportion of the retail?
Alexandru Chiru: Our clients and partners were, as always, perseverant and keen on their needs and desire for development, for growth (both financially and holistically). So mainly all the projects in which we are together reflecte the opportunities to pursue the main goal, and that is to make retail environment the best it can be – a really shopping experience. In order to capture the higher proportion of the retail industry, we encouraged and facilitated more and more triangle partnerships, so we wanted to bring together both retailers and brand manufacturers, and this way the challenges they faced were split and both partners took advantage of the positive results that these projects could possibly bring. Our vision is to lead the development in creating innovative and sustainable solutions for a better shopping experience around the world, but most important, in our market.
Q: How was 2017 for HL Display and what are your perspectives for 2018?
Alexandru Chiru: 2017 was a year full of new opportunities and changes for HL Display - changes in production, changes within the internal organization and in our business focus, changes in our partners’ businesses. Actually, it still is challenging. In the same time, we are proud and happy to also say that we faced a well deserve sales increase and a fantastic growth. It was an extra effort that the whole team put together, along with our production facilities, but this only made us more eager to be even more better and professional, in order to answer our clients’ needs. So, based on this, our perspectives for 2018 reflect keeping this growth process and our status as business enablers. Of course, we cannot close our eyes when it comes to encouraging innovation and providing our partners with the best suitable solutions to help them win in the new and current markets.
Q: What is the ‘’unknown’’ for 2018?
Alexandru Chiru: There is no “unknown” for us. Although we know and feel the market trends, and we work together with our partners to face the challenges in the market, the “unknown” can be a variable that can change our direction, that can change the game. This can be easily quantified by the end customer. Not the trend is the one that can refocus our strategies, but the end-customer that is guided by the lack of time he decides to spend in store. But we are close to our partners and together we deliver what is desirable for the end customer.
Q: What were the most innovative trends in retail in 2017?
Alexandru Chiru: This is the most important aspect of 2017, beside our focus on sales and partners’ success – the market trends. Innovation will always be the key driver in our business, so thanks to our market trends, our business opportunities also grew. In our opinion, the most innovative trend in retail in 2017 was the focus on BIO products, on healthy snacks and most of all, on fresh products. Moreover, we faced, and we are glad about this, a need for change within the retail industry. Change is not only the indicator that is delivering growth, but when we talk about change in retail we talk about a different perspective that our partners have. And this perspective reflects the desire to keep up with the market trend, with the customer needs and expectations. Another important market trend is the priority for reducing waste. Although is a market focus for some years, we felt it becoming a market priority only this year.
Q: How was the market in 2017 in terms of customised and standard solutions offered by HL Display? What is the trend between those two and how would you explain the trend?
Alexandru Chiru: Our direction was always guided into 2 directions: customized solutions and standard solutions. Usually we would say that most customized solutions target the brand manufacturers, but not this year. 2017 was full of challenges and opportunities characterized by customized solutions for retailers. Retailers were the first to respond the market trend – focus on their BIO categories, healthy products and fresh, remodel the bulk areas and making it more attractive for the customer. So, the trend is better explained in store.
Q: Regarding your customers. What are their main needs and what is their feedback towards the products you provide? How do you measure your clients’ overall satisfaction and how do they measure their clients’ satisfaction?
Alexandru Chiru: Ironic, but true, our clients’ main need was to better respond to their customer’s needs. So, to give some examples, the main needs were regarding creating better shopping experiences, respond in a targeted way to both market trends and customer need - focus on healthy products, fresh products, increase visibility and range for these key categories. We created in-store destinations for category leaders, brought together both retailers and brand manufacturers and worked on triangle opportunities that, in the end, satisfied the end customer. The success and satisfaction for the solutions we implemented was measured in the footfall the category had, the sales increase percentage and in the sales orders we had.
Q: What’s your view on employment, trade and investment in Romania in 2018, and please give us your view about the evolution of your business sector in 2018.
Alexandru Chiru: When it comes to employment, especially for the following years, I can only say that in my perspective, most important is to focus on people and development. I focus on the development of my team, because with my team also our business is developing. By focusing on our strengths and the development and growth of our potential, also our client’s businesses grow. It’s like a snowball going down the hill. In the same time, I am confident that having this growing trend- employee development, if our industry will start to focus more on people, the employment rate will grow and so will the investments. For 2018, we will continue to offer superior functionality products and solutions, and although the playing field is levelling out and competition is trying hard to catch up with our assortment, what we do best is to focus on our partners, our clients, continue to develop leading capabilities in designing insight driver solutions, and the best customer service. Customer service will always make a difference.
Q: In terms of retail, if you were to go back almost 20 years ago, what would be your opinion on ‘’Romania - then and now’’?
Alexandru Chiru: Romania, from what I feel, was and is constantly moving, only with different capabilities and resources. So, I think we can say that although the product assortments and categories were not as wide as they are today, the retail environment from 20 years ago still tried to face the market trends that the consumers’ needs were setting. In this modern environment, of course, the challenges are at a higher level than 20 years ago, and the customers’ needs are more demanding.