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He left the Sabancı Group and became a foreign brand giant

Cengiz Çetindoğan is head of the Demsa Group, which has brought world-famous fashion brands to Turkey. Çetindoğan has developed Demsa, which he founded in 2000, into one of the most important compa...

Son Güncelleme: 01.03.2006

Cengiz Çetindoğan is head of the Demsa Group, which has brought world-famous fashion brands to Turkey. Çetindoğan has developed Demsa, which he founded in 2000, into one of the most important companies in the retail sector. It now represents 10 brands and has 50 stores. Çetindoğan explains his plans for the future as follows: “There are two other brands which we want to add to our organization. If we can add them, then Demsa will become the leading retailer of foreign brands in Turkey.”

The Demsa group began operations six years ago when it opened its first Mothercare store in Şaşkınbakkal in Istanbul. Since then it has brought 10 world famous brands to Turkey. The group is headed by Cengiz Çetindoğan. He does not appear much in the media. In fact, he gave his first ever interview to Capital.

Çetindoğan is married to Demet Sabancı, the daughter of Hacı Sabancı, and began his career at Pilsa, one of the Sabancı Holding companies, before stepping down as general manager to establish Demsa. At that time, there were only 2-3 firms in the retail sector which were bringing foreign brands to Turkey.

Çetindoğan saw this gap in the market and decided to make an investment in the sector. Today Demsa is the Turkish representative for 10 world famous brands including Mothercare, Laura Ashley, Guess, Fornarina, Colours & Beauty, 123 and Gerard Darel. Its shareholders include Sabancı Holding and Akbank. It now has 50 stores. It is conducting negotiations with new brands. Indeed, it has signed a new brand agreement: the Italian Conbipel, which is the equivalent of Zara or H & M.

Over the last three years the company has grown by 40-45 percent and at the end of last year it achieved a turnover of $30 million. Demsa Board Chairman Cengiz Çetindoğan says that at the moment it is about to add two new brands to its portfolio and says that when the deals are finalized it will be the leading retailer of foreign brands in the country. Cengiz Çetindoğan gave Capital an exclusive interview:

* Demsa was founded in 2000. Which brands did you start out by representing? Could you explain the development of the company?
We began commercial activities with the Mothercare store in Şaşkınbakkal in September 2000. The Mothercare store was the first time we represented a foreign company. In the same year we reached an agreement with Laura Ashley. The first store was opened in 2001. We also signed an agreement with Mexx in 2001. Towards the end of 2001 a Mexx store was opened. Later came the San Marina-Minelli Group. Then came the other brands with which we now have representative agreements, such as Guess, Fornarina, Colours & Beauty. At the moment we have 10 brands. We have a total of 50 stores.

* What kind of strategy do you pursue for these brands in Turkey? Are there any differences to the way in which things are done elsewhere in the world?
In any case, we are in continuous contact with the mother firms. When we are thinking of entering a new location we share it with them. We exchange ideas between ourselves. If both sides agree then we move on to the purchase or lease of a store. The projects come from abroad for all of the brands with which we work. We present the construction projects to them and they come up with all the details of the interior design etc. We decide on growth strategies together. We are responsible for all of the investments. Sometimes we receive support for brand development and advertising. But, apart from this, all of the investment and financial risk is Demsa’s.

* What is the latest situation as regards turnover, the number of your workforce and the number of your stores?
At the end of 20005 we had 350 employees and 50 stores. Our turnover has reached over $30 million. Including those which have not yet been finalized, we shall increase the number of our stores to 75 in 2006. The number of our employees will rise to a minimum of 500. We are targeting a turnover of $45-50 million at year-end 2006.