We are in Kayseri to keep the pulse of production
The covid-19 epidemic, which affected the world, undoubtedly shook social life significantly. As in the whole world, in the period from March to June, when the first case was announced in our country, measures taken to prevent the spread of the epidemic slowed economic activity. In the process, people turned to basic needs such as food and cleaning products. This has slowed manufacturing of durable goods in the manufacturing industry rather than sales. While manufacturing decreased by 31.4 percent in April, the Manufacturing Industry Index fell 33.3 percent compared to the same period last year.
Well, we are talking to Cihat Şahin, General Manager of Kilim furniture, which produces in Kayseri, Turkey's industrial city.
How did the pandemic process affect production and sales?
In this process, as part of the COVID-19 epidemic in the world and in our country, protecting the health of our customers, employees and our society has been our highest priority. Between March 19 and 30 as part of the 'EvdeKalTürkiye' campaign, we took a short break from our production activities. After that, we resumed our production activities in accordance with the principle of alternating operation. During this period, the ‘economic stability package' announced by our government delayed the tax and SGK premium payments of many sectors. The postponement of payments until July 27 has provided great comfort to our sector, as in all sectors. The fact that COVID-19 measures began to be relaxed as of June 1 and the announcement of a social support loan package led by state-owned banks during the same period had a positive impact on our sales. I can safely say that our sales began to return before the pandemic rates with the release of waiting demand for those who married, bought a house and wanted to renovate their home. In this process, we quickly implemented the standards set by TSE in our production facilities and as a result of the inspections, we were entitled to receive the “TSE COVID-19 Safe Production Certificate”. In our factory, production continues in accordance with the rules of fighting COVID-19, in accordance with the rules of social distance and on the basis of alternating work.
Have you made future plans in this process?
We always have plans for the future. Our strategies are implemented in a certain discipline in a short, medium and long term plans. In this process only covid-19 outbreak completely changed consumer habits. Taking into account this development, we have given weight to the dealer as well as online sales channels. In the process of staying at home, consumers through e-commerce were able to find answers to all their questions as if they were in the store, and they made their purchases with confidence. Besides E-commerce, we also used other communication channels such as phone, WhatsApp widely.
We have organized store visits to be exclusive to them only via phone and WhatsApp on large and irreconcilable furniture purchases. In this way, we did not victimize consumers in need of furniture, but we carried out our operations through a secure sales line. Again, in this process, our R & D and innovation investments continued in full swing. We export our products to 44 countries of the world. As the measures taken by the world economies along with Turkey are gradually loosened, orders from export markets are returning to normal. At the moment, there is no change in our goals for both domestic and foreign markets.
Have there been innovations in product diversity and customer profile?
Work on product quality and diversity is always our priority. The health element that we have always cared about during the COVID-19 epidemic has once again shown its importance. As consumers turned to the concept of healthy living during the pandemic period, they began to buy their products in their homes, evaluating them both ergonomically and in terms of health. During this period, when health and associated quality of sleep became much more important to people, we also saw a significant increase in demand for our innovative beds. Our BioMedical and EnergyPlus beds, which we offered for sale a while ago, attracted great attention from consumers because of innovative works and the actives contained in their functional fabrics prevent pain, contraction, sweating. We experienced periods when anxiety increased, and therefore sleep problems began, which led to increased demands. We plan to release a total of six new bed models by the end of the year. Kilim furniture is a brand that appeals to everyone, so as always we have added hundreds of thousands of new names to our customer portfolio. But it should be noted that COVID-19 has increased sensitivity to health and hygiene, so brands that give this confidence to the consumer will come to much different points tomorrow.
R & D, innovation and e-commerce are our priority
As kilim furniture, we say “first human, first health” today as we did yesterday. These are the basis of all our R & D work, Design Work, Production work, e-commerce activities, store sales. I would say that R & D and innovation are an indispensable part of our production and even the most important branch. We continue to pay a lot of attention to our investments in this area. We recently established Kayseri's first and only Design Center. As a brand, we care very much about both our R & D Center and our Design Center, and we have created two separate budgets for the two centers. Our goal is to increase the staff of the R & D Center, which employs 33 people, to 40 people. Both in our production facilities and in our R & D center, our work continues with the goal of becoming a world brand. At this point, we are one of the mostly investing brands. Both on our production side, we constantly invest in our machine tracks, as well as create special solutions for our needs through our R & D center. We invest in increasing our stores both in terms of number and in terms of Interior Appearance, we constantly design more up-to-date. Our technology and online investments continue uninterrupted. Finally, we created a new investment budget of 10 million TL ($1.5 million) for this channel. In the new normal period, we set our goals on Business Development. However, we are nearing the end of our planning for different business lines. We want to exist in every point of Turkey with the goal of becoming a world brand. For this reason, we are working hard to open new stores, create new sales channels, invest more in R & D and respond quickly to changing consumer demands. That's what we achieved during the pandemic. In addition, our goals are to create Industry 4.0-oriented business processes by going to new regulations in the technological infrastructure. Our R & D center has very successful work at this point and we have commissioned some of it at the point of use. We want to develop new machine technology specific to us in furniture, we have taken serious steps on this issue and we will soon put them into operation. The biggest discovery of our time is “e-commerce”, at this point we have a desire to do better while being good, and so we have increased our online investments.
The latest situation in Kilim furniture?
Kilim furniture is one of the important furniture manufacturers in Turkey, as well as the second largest furniture exporter in Turkey. Today it exports to 44 countries. It has stores in 31 countries. America ranks first among the countries it exports to, while Greece, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan follow America. Countries such as Kazakhstan, Portugal, UK, Qatar, Kenya, Morocco, Israel, Hong Kong, France, Hungary, Germany, Libya, Italy, and Netherlands are the target markets. Due to the covid-19 outbreak, opening of 4 new stores are postponed abroad. In the absence of a second wave of pandemics, it is aimed to increase the number of exported countries to 50 and the number of foreign stores to 35. It is aimed to show the design aspect of Turkish furniture to the whole world and to contribute to the country's economy with high added value products by taking a greater share of the world furniture market.