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Boosting the beverage business

3271 afisari
Claudia Ariton
Steady progress is the phrase that best describes Shachar Shaine’s ten-year stint in Romania so far. Shaine is president of one of the largest beer producers in Romania, United Romanian Breweries Bereprod (URBB). Earlier this year he decided to serve the cause of investors by taking over as the new president of the Foreign Investors Council (FIC). His company has gone from strength to strength, and the consolidation continues. “We will invest seven million Euro in developing our bottling capacity,” Shaine revealed in an exclusive interview.
“We will keep investing in promoting the brands in our portfolio and we have increased our marketing budget by 15 per cent in lei this year. One of our main objectives is to maintain our leading position in the international beer-brands market segment,” he added.
The company has already developed a solid portfolio, comprising premium international beer and soft drink brands. It now plans to expand its operations into the local mineral-water market. To achieve its objective, the company has launched a ten million Euro investment in a greenfield project in Harghita. “In the coming years we will also seek to explore new areas in the beverage market,” the URBB president added.
Meanwhile, the company wants to capitalize on its 18 per cent increase in turnover last year by boosting its beer and soft drink sales. “We recorded the highest growth in July, with the total volume of beer and soft drink sales increasing by seven per cent. Based on that growth and considering the downward market trends, our company’s market share reached 12 per cent in the beer segment, representing the highest value we have ever recorded,” said Shaine. He added that the company recorded a sales volume of 1.2 million hectoliters in the first eight months of the year.
Last year, the company had an overall market share of nine per cent, covering nearly a fifth of the mainstream premium and super premium segments, he said. URBB’s portfolio includes beer brands such as Tuborg, Skol, Carlsberg, Holsten, Guinness and Kilkenny, and the soft drink brands Granini and Orangina. “The Romanian beer market is still maturing, but it has reached a higher level of development compared to several years ago. Due to the crisis, however, total beer consumption will not reach the levels recorded in previous years.”
Even so, he remains optimistic and believes that companies can minimize the effects of the crisis by using smart strategies. According to Shaine, who arrived in Romania in 1999 after a stint at Coca-Cola Israel, cost efficiency is the survival strategy this year: “Companies need a good long-term strategy that will work as just as well after the financial crisis is over. I am referring here to the renegotiations that we have had with our suppliers with a view to cutting costs related to energy, raw materials, media and so on. Also we have been working on improving efficiency in all our production and logistics facilities and have been looking for new export opportunities.”
The company now employs around 950 employees, up from 350 since the plant in Pantelimon started operations. Likewise, its production capacity has increased from 500,000 hectoliters to 2.1 million, while the total investment to date amounts to 195 million USD. “Our factory was built in 1996, using local resources only,” the president recalled. “At first, one of our main challenges was to form a strong and solid team that could set up the foundation of our business. Besides, the local beer market was just opening up and we had to think of ways of bringing international premium brands into the lives of Romanian consumers. Now we are facing a more crowded and mature market, where the battle for consumer attention is getting stronger day by day. It’s all about reinventing your strategy and adapting to the way in which consumer behavior changes,” the president added. 
Working in a challenging environment is also a source of satisfaction. Shaine considers his experience as part of URBB’s team to be his biggest professional success thus far. As head of URBB’s sales department in 2003 and as president of the company since 2004, he was in the middle of the action when new brands such as Carlsberg, Skol, Holsten, Orangina and Granini became part of the company’s portfolio. Referring to his future professional objective, he said: “I want our company to keep up its high standards and our brands to continue to lead in terms of quality, image and consumer preference.”
His long experience in Romania has also allowed him to take up an important role as head of the Foreign Investors Council. “The main objective of the FIC is to foster dialogue between the policy makers and investors, improve Romania’s business environment and mitigate the impact of the current international financial situation,” he explained, adding that “the primary objective of the board is to increase the FIC’s involvement and success as a lobbying organization and to increase the consideration of its position papers and recommendations submitted to the government.” According to Shaine, his target as head of FIC is to keep open two-way lines of communication with FIC’s dialogue partners, including key government decision and policy makers. “We have a lot to offer in terms of experience and advice to both the authorities and future investors,” he said. Among the priorities on FIC’s agenda, he listed subjects such as discussing anti-crisis measures, advocating specific legislation for increased labor market flexibility and establishing lines of communication with the EU and local authorities.
Shaine’s free time, what little he has, is dedicated to his family and his hobbies, which include skiing and basketball.
Favorites:
City – Sydney
Country – Romania
Romanian hotel – Radisson SAS, JW Bucharest Marriott Grand Hotel
International hotel (outside Romania) – Four Seasons
Bucharest/Romanian restaurant – Up Town, Marriott, Arcade, Casa Doina, Grandeur
Food – International cuisine
Drink – Beer and red wine.
Movie – “17 again” (“The last movie I watched and liked”)
Actor – Radu Beligan
Last book read – “Blue Gold” by Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos
Car owned – Toyota Land Cruiser
Favorite vehicle – Metro (“The best solution to avoid the traffic”)
Hobby – Skiing, basketball
Music genre – Salsa
Singer – Robbie Williams
Composer – Leonard Cohen
Sport – Skiing, basketball
Team – Liverpool FC
Player – Steven Gerard
Last vacation taken – I spent one week in London with my family in June 2009
Birth sign – Scorpio
Date and place of birth –13.11.68, Tiberias, Israel
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