Switching to e-trade by Festival Halı

Switching to e-trade by Festival Halı

Cebrail Şahin, the GM at Festival Halı: “This period of time accompanied with a virus proved that we should be very resilient at e-trade just as we open stores at regular marketplaces.”

Festival Halı, one of the distinguished carpet brands in Turkey, now began to reap what they sowed with investments they made before the pandemic began to hit. Cebrail Şahin, the GM of the brand, which was included in the scope of the ‘Turquality Brand Support Program’ in 2019, said they attained a large sum of useful data concerning consumer habits, thanks to their earlier investments. Adding that they continue to sell their products through websites and e-trade marketplaces in the regions where they have actively been involved, Şahin gave more information about what they would be up to in the upcoming period. He also commented on 2020.

How could Festival Halı manage to go through such a challenging pandemic period? Would let us know the updates?

Covid-19 changed the trends, management of production and the direction of the markets. The fact that the pandemic did not start to hit all the countries equally at the same time, hitting Far East countries first and then others, reflected upon us positively, so to speak, as Festival Halı has been involved in several regions. Of course, this has also had its adverse impacts, too. First off, our sales volume in the market places changed dramatically. While our sales in China and its peripherals stopped, we proceeded with our sales in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia by the sixth month of 2020. Later on, we made serious moves in the US and around. The change of the markets helped us to turn our eyes to regions that might be active for our industry.

Later, came the period when the effects of the pandemic began to be diminishing, which surprisingly ended up in boom of needs. However, the seasons have also switched. Normally, the summer months would be off-peak for the carpet industry. In contrast, we had satisfactory sales during the summer of 2020. Normally, our sales rates used to be relatively low in the summer. In 2020, however, we realized almost 75% of our total sales during summer months. Later, with the curfews in effect through September and October, e-trade was surged in by consumers. The fact that consumers preferred to use their purchasing power for primarily food and clothing, of which they were mostly in need, caused a contraction in our sector and the entire sector feels that it’s not been gotten rid of yet. In addition, rising raw material costs at the beginning of 2021 negatively affected production, thus weakened the competitive power of players. To be honest, there were times when we had to make tough decisions like termination of production. All in all, there is one thing we clearly see: We should be very resilient at e-trade just as we open stores at regular marketplaces.

What are your comments about Saudi Arabia and the US where you have close business dealings? How do you think your products are likely to be responded to at those markets?

The US is a country which has a significant growth potential for carpet industry. Huge demands are already being witnessed. As Festival Halı and the city of Gaziantep, we think that this period of time will not damage the sales much, although it is acceptable that it may have minor effects on our sector.

As for the Saudi market, our investments are huge, there; we have stores and warehouses. The unpleasant incidents that occurred simply due to political reasons were quite worrisome for us. We predict this will not be gotten rid of soon as there is an unofficial boycott going on. There are statements on social media that the authorities do not want to purchase Turkish products. As those residing in Saudi Arabia take Turkish goods as more classy than those of their own, they show great interest in Turkish products. As a matter of fact, the boycott was useless in the eyes of the public; the pressure exerted by their government adversely affected producers and exporters who sent products there.

You have just said that people purchase products on the top of their priority list. People spend more time at home during this time; carpet is the item housewives can change most easily in Turkey, Do you think that it will reflect positively on the sector?

The domestic market should, of course, be taken separately. People seem to be eager to change household items such as furniture, carpets and curtains due to lockdowns spent indoors. There are obviously new things going on there. What is important is to have ‘purchasing power’. As I’ve said earlier, we see the contributing effect of this on e-trade shopping.

Secondly, people have been inclined to purchase products that serve decorative purposes and that are easier to give up, disposable or washable with machines, rather than high quality, classy products. It is not so just for Turkey; rather, it’s for the entire world. We witness the positive reflections of such transformation too.

How about your decorative products? What are the differences between machine-made carpets and your decorative products in terms of production processes?

 We, too, switched our attention to products, sought-after by people during the pandemic period; in this sense, we produce decorative products in three different qualities. Machine made carpet is a more costly business requiring significantly much cash capital as you need to have ample amount of products in stock, unlike decorative products. You can produce any color or patterns with a printing machine. You have the chance to produce either 1 or 1000 items. The other thing is that the capacity at machine-made carpets is up to 1/10 compared to the other product. One can produce 10 thousand or 20 thousand square meters of machine-made carpet, depending on the quality. However, for decorative products, the capacity may vary between 50 thousand to 500 thousand depending on the quality. That is clearly the huge difference between the two. Naturally, the fact that decorative products are rather cheap and easily washable is a reason for preference for the consumer. People prefer washable products to wash themselves at home instead of sending carpets to carper washers, creating a serious option for those who pursue alternative products at the sector.

What about e-trade?

We signed a contract with an international company in January, 2020 regarding e-trade. Obviously, we have focused more on e-trade, as a requirement of the pandemic. We have been active in 12 countries. We put those countries on a periodical row. We have launched our e-trade system in our country, plus Qatar, Germany, the US and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait is next; others to come soon.

The world of e-trade is now where the marketplaces of the new world are managed. We have gained considerable experience, thus follow trends, collect data about which carpet is sought by which customer, and which customer has contacted us for which carpet. We have entered market places in Turkey; and we conduct our sales through our own e-trade site. Similarly, we are at the market places of those countries while we also sell through our own website. We are planning to carefully grow more and more to reach the level where we put the bar.

Last but not least, will you please elaborate on the Festival Academy?

Festival Academy Graduates are sent to their posts after a 6-month training. We held the academy training twice. We are on for a new one. We have witnessed the efficiency of the academy, not only for us but also for the graduates. Our university graduate colleagues, expert in their fields, have really been effective in terms of promoting a Turkish brand in their assigned countries. As a brand, we enjoy the pride and joy of this. The satisfactory outcomes that Academy graduates obtain in those countries are clearly a motivating factor for everyone involved.

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