Many French busi­nesses open, ex­pand in Ukraine

Kyiv Post - - Business - BY GABRIEL HARDY- FRANÇON HARDYFRANC­[email protected]

Ukrainian-French trade re­la­tion­ship is do­ing well and the ar­rival of new com­pa­nies — one of them iconic — ready to con­trib­ute to the Ukrainian mar­ket’s de­vel­op­ment is a per­fect il­lus­tra­tion.

Eco­nomic ties be­tween the two coun­tries in 2018 amounted to a to­tal of $2.28 bil­lion worth of trade since Ukraine’s in­de­pen­dence, ac­cord­ing to the Ukrainian em­bassy in France. The French-Ukrainian Cham­ber of Com­merce that about 180 French com­pa­nies are im­planted in Ukraine — even though only 125 are reg­is­tered at the cham­ber.

It is not sur­pris­ing then that, in such a fa­vor­able con­text, new French com­pa­nies de­cide to start do­ing busi­ness in Ukraine.

De­cathlon

“Sport ac­ces­si­ble to every­one,” told Florent Guieu — the CEO of De­cathlon Ukraine that opened its first store on March 23 near Kyiv’s Pochaina metro — to the Kyiv Post on April 4 in or­der to de­scribe the un­der­ly­ing phi­los­o­phy of the firm.

With 1,400 stores in more than 55 coun­tries of the world, De­cathlon is the world’s largest sport­ing goods re­tailer and there­fore the un­con­tested in­ter­na­tional leader in the in­dus­try — and a great rep­re­sen­ta­tive of French know-how when it comes to busi­ness.

Since it first opened its doors in 1976 in North­ern France, De­cathlon’s con­cept al­ways was to “bring all sports un­der one roof,” said Guieu.

It is in that spirit that the in­ter­na­tional brand de­cided to move to Ukraine.

He ex­plained that “for many years, De­cathlon would open only in two coun­tries, but our strat­egy has changed since 2015… we have opened our doors in 10 coun­tries in only two years.”

De­cathlon has opened its doors for in­stance in both Ja­pan and San Fran­cisco dur­ing the last few weeks, which il­lus­trates fur­ther its new ex­pan­sion pol­icy.

Ac­cord­ing to Guieu, it was ev­i­dent that it needed to open a first store — with the clear in­ten­tion to open more in the fu­ture. “With the ar­rival of sev­eral re­tail­ers in the coun­try, it is the right time for us to open our store too,” he added.

De­cathlon has ac­tu­ally been work­ing in Ukraine for al­ready six years he ex­plained: “hun­dreds of thou­sands of high-qual­ity hik­ing shoes, all of foot­ball goal­keep­ers’ gloves, all hockey crosses, and all skis are pro­duced lo­cally.”

With 75 work­ers within the store, and 300 em­ploy­ees for pro­duc­tion, the com­pany is also a great job gen­er­a­tor for the coun­try.

The internal func­tion­ing of De­cathlon con­sists also in giv­ing the chance to each em­ployee to rise from the very bot­tom to the top of the pyra­mid — this is why 90 per­cent of all CEOs started from lower po­si­tions ac­cord­ing to Guieu.

“All the peo­ple we re­cruit isn’t for what they can do to­day, but for what they might do to­mor­row… it is their po­ten­tial that we look at the most,” he added.

De­cathlon had an amaz­ing start with 6,000 vis­i­tors on the first week­end and sev­eral ar­ti­cles go­ing out of stock — “the line was so long that peo­ple had to wait out­side for safety mea­sures.”

Guieu re­joices to see the Ukrainian mar­ket wide open for them and was hap­pily sur­prised to see a fa­vor­able en­vi­ron­ment with help­ful Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties who en­sured a smooth co­op­er­a­tion be­fore the open­ing.

“Ukraine is very wel­com­ing… it is a great place for both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional self-ful­fill­ment… it is def­i­nitely the place to be,” he con­cluded.

Aigle Azur

Another com­pany has taken the leap to do busi­ness in Ukraine: Aigle Azur.

The French Air­line com­pany has de­cided to open a new route be­tween Paris-Orly and Kyiv with a first up­com­ing flight on April 18.

Tiago Martins, the Chief Com­mer­cial and Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer told the Kyiv Post that “Ukraine was quite a log­i­cal di­rec­tion due to the de­vel­oped re­la­tion­ship be­tween France and Ukraine, and the re­moval of visas for Ukrainian na­tion­als vis­it­ing France.”

Martins de­clared that the in­ten­tion of the com­pany was clearly to stay in Ukraine, and even maybe in­crease fre­quen­cies de­pend­ing on the success of the route.

He said that with a capacity of 180 seats per flight, “the book­ing trend is look­ing good.”

He also added that the com­pany is “making sure to keep a com­pet­i­tive price base to meet Ukrainian travelers’ ex­pec­ta­tions” — all in the hope to fly at full capacity.

Martins con­cluded that the com­pany re­ceived sub­stan­tial sup­port from Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties — yet another good sign of the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment’s health.

FM Lo­gis­tic Ukraine

New com­pa­nies com­ing in and older ones ex­pand­ing — French busi­nesses are do­ing well in Ukraine.

Ac­cord­ing to coun­try man­ager Sébastien Lardel­lier, FM Lo­gis­tic (FML) in­creased its vol­ume three­fold in 2018, making it “a break­through year” for the com­pany.

As a consequenc­e, Lardel­lier told the Kyiv Post that, in ad­di­tion to the 24000 square me­ters of ware­hous­ing fa­cil­i­ties al­ready built from 2014 to 2017, the com­pany is in the ap­proval stage for the con­struc­tion of a new ware­house in Du­darkiv Lo­gis­tic park in Kyiv Oblast.

“A de­ci­sion that should be made by “the end of June 2019 for de­liv­ery within 1.5–2 years,” he said.

FML is ded­i­cated to Ukraine and be­lieves in its fu­ture. Lardel­lier noted, the com­pany “stayed and grew in Ukraine dur­ing the hardest cri­sis while some in­ter­na­tional play­ers left or stopped de­vel­op­ment.”

Lardel­lier high­lighted that it re­ceived au­tho­riza­tion from the au­thor­i­ties in 2017 to build their lat­est ware­house.

“The com­pany re­ceived real and trans­par­ent sup­port from dif­fer­ent ad­min­is­tra­tions, which was im­por­tant and re­as­sured the com­pany that they were right to con­tinue in­vest­ment in Ukraine,” he said.

“In the past, we had dif­fer­ent is­sues due to the com­plex­ity of tax­a­tion in Ukraine, but we clearly saw a step-by-step sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of tax­a­tion, which makes our life eas­ier, and let us con­cen­trate on our core busi­ness.” ■

Florent Guieu, CEO of De­cathlon Ukraine, speaks with the Kyiv Post at the sport­ing goods re­tailer's first store in Kyiv on April 4, 2019. (Oleg Pe­tra­siuk)

An Air­bus A319 air­craft of Weav­ing group's French air­line Aigle Azur takes off from Lille Air­port in Lesquin, north­ern France on Au­gust 25, 2017. Start­ing on April 18, Aigle Azur will op­er­ate three flights a week from Paris-Orly to Kyiv Bo­ryspil. (AFP)

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