The Business Year

Savaş Uzan

AZERBAIJAN - Agriculture

Grows On Tree

CEO, Azersun Holding

Bio

Savaş Uzan was born in Bursa, Turkey in 1969. He graduated from the Engineering Faculty of Yildiz University in Istanbul in 1991. He started his career in Ankara in Sumer Hali as a Sales Representative and worked there for two years. In 1994, he started to work as assistant Foreign Trade manager for Etsun operating in Turkey as a part of the Group of Companies Intersun, the other member of which is Azersun Holding. He then moved to Moscow as the General Manager of ZAO Etsun for two years. In 1997 and 1998, he worked in Dubai as General Manager for Intersun Group. He joined Azersun Trade and Distribution Company in 1998 as General Manager and worked there until 2002. He worked for Wellington Marketing FZE Dubai as General Manager from 2002 till 2013 for 11 years in the commodities business before joining Azersun Holding as CEO of the company. He has been CEO since 2013, and he has also been a member of the Board of the Directors since 2008.

TBY talks to Savafl Uzan, CEO of Azersun Holding, on the Year of Agriculture, how the company will develop, and investment opportunities.

In what ways can Azersun Holding contribute to the Year of Agriculture in 2015?

Azersun Holding plays an important role in the development of the country’s non-oil sector, and has always attached great importance to agriculture. Most of our projects are directly related to this sector. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev declared 2014 as the Year of Industry. By commissioning the Azersun Industrial Estate in 2014, with two major industrial complexes in it, we have made our contribution to agricultural development. Put into operation at a ceremony attended by the President, the industrial estate includes the Azerbaijan Paper and Cardboard Enterprise and the Sumgait Butter Factory, which has an annual capacity of 270,000 tons. In addition, on the initiative of the presidents of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, the construction of the Logistical Center, which will be in Aktau, has been entrusted to Azersun Holding. Work on this project is now in full swing. After this enterprise becomes operational, it will be more profitable and easier to export agricultural produce from Azerbaijan. This will directly facilitate the expansion of Azerbaijan’s export potential, in particular the exports of agricultural produce. We hope that the opening of the Logistical Center will be attended by the presidents of the two countries, and this project will contribute to further strengthen our economic relations. Azersun Holding is entering 2015 with major plans. We will soon commission a new animal feed factory in Imishli, with a capacity that will be twice that of the previous enterprise, producing 200,000 tons of feed a year. In 2015, we will also start a project to establish a large livestock breeding enterprise in the districts of Masalli and Shamakhi.

What new areas is Azersun Holding looking to develop in the coming year in particular?

The rapid development of Azerbaijan creates favorable conditions for the private sector. Azersun Holding is also taking advantage of the judicious policies conducted by the government. Growing in size with every passing year, our company provides an increasing number of people with jobs and implements projects contributing to improved prosperity and well being of its employees and society. In 2015, the company intends to start producing industrial chocolate. Various chocolate producers operating in the country will now be able to acquire high-quality raw materials from Azersun Holding. We also plan to commission other new enterprises. Baku will play host to the inaugural European Games in 2015 and Azersun Holding intends to make a contribution to the organization of this major international event.

As Azerbaijan looks to develop its export market in the non-oil sector, what role will Azersun Holding play in supporting Azerbaijan’s export market?

Whereas in the early years of our operation the main objective of Azersun Holding was to provide for the country’s food security, we have now met the internal demand. Our new focus is to try to take our domestic products to external markets. You can already come across Azersun Holding products in China, Central Asia, Arab countries, CIS, and other post-Soviet republics, Europe, and the US. We will soon establish a distribution office in Cologne, Germany, which is expected to increase our sales to European markets. At the same time, the Aktau Logistics Center is also expected to create favorable conditions for expanding our sales to Asian markets. In cooperation with Heinemann Duty Free, we are already selling our Azercay products in 54 airports around the world.

One of Azersun’s goals has been to produce goods that are competitive in foreign markets. How would you assess the success of Azerbaijani products in global markets?

In general, the philosophy of Azersun Holding is underpinned by quality. Wherever the product is to be sold, as long as there is an Azersun Holding logo on it, there should be no issues with quality. What we have achieved to this day has been possible thanks to this approach. The quality of our products allows them the opportunity to compete with any product anywhere in the world. The central laboratory, in which Azersun Holding has invested great funds, serves this very goal. Having received international accreditation in 2014, this laboratory enables a complete quality assurance process. This, in turn, has earned us the respect of customers both in domestic and foreign markets. In addition, the agricultural produce cultivated in Azerbaijan are processed and canned with the best quality at four canneries. In terms of their quality, they are capable of competing with analogous products made in Europe. We will succeed in exporting quality Azerbaijani products to European markets.

What further ways can the Agriculture sector develop in Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan’s favorable geographic location and the attention being paid to agriculture facilitate agricultural development are two important ways to progress the sector. I believe that as a result of the government’s attention to agricultural development, the contribution of this sector to the economy will increase several times in the coming years. Speaking in more specific terms, I would say that, where there is hard work and diligence, anything can be achieved. Azerbaijani products are already available and popular in many countries around the globe. This attests to the fact that our products are of good quality and competitive.

How would you assess the investment opportunities available in Azerbaijan now as a result of events such as the upcoming European Games in Baku?

We have great expectations from the First European Games due to be held in Baku in June. I have no doubt that the Games will be held at a high level and stay on the world’s sporting agenda for a long time. The fact that such a high-profile event is to be held in Baku is first of all evidence of Azerbaijan’s authority in the sporting world. We are capable of conducting high-level international sporting events. This attests to the level of international confidence in our country. Azersun Holding has recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Baku European Games Organizing Committee. It is gratifying for us that Azersun Holding and Bazarstore will take an active part in Baku-2015. According to the agreement reached, our company will act as an official partner of the European Games. The chain of Bazarstore supermarkets owned by Azersun Holding will provide merchandising and wholesale services, while Azerçay will act as official provider of tea during the Games. Most importantly, tens of thousands of foreign tourists will come to Baku to watch the Games. This will provide us with an excellent opportunity to promote our products to a much broader audience. Azersun Holding is proud to be an official partner of such a high-profile event as the First European Games. Speaking about investments, I can say that a lot has been invested in many areas of Azerbaijan to date, and these investments are already paying off. Nevertheless, we are also thinking of further investments. The Games will also provide foreign investors with the opportunity to discover Azerbaijan for themselves, and I am sure that this will produce specific results in the future.

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