We have a long way to go in personal car

We spoke with Unilever Türkiye CEO Mehmet Altinok about how he took up his current post and about his plans.

12.06.2014 13:21:140
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We have a long way to go in personal car
For the last six months, Mehmet Altinok has been continuing as CEO the career he started at Unilever 24 years ago. The new CEO notes that 2013 was very successful and that their turnover reached $1.5 billion, adding that his priority is to continue this success.

He says that developing countries have grown very fast and that they won’t deviate from this target in 2014. “In terms of consumption, Turkey is far below the global norm,” he says and draws attention to its potential. “Personal care is the most underdeveloped market in Turkey.

The rates of penetration and consumption are far below world standards. There is a long way to go in personal care. The figures show that the fastest growth is in personal care,” he says. We spoke with Unilever Türkiye CEO Mehmet Altinok about how he took up his current post and about his plans.

You became Unilever CEO after 24 years at the company. What happened during those 24 years?
I saw an advertisement for a position at Unilever while I was performing my military service in the Turkish General Staff and I applied after I had completed my military service. I have not worked at another company. I started at the company in 1989 as a product manager.

Later I went to the Netherlands. I returned to Istanbul and then I went to Hungary. I came back and this time I went to China. The most interesting was China. It is a different life there, a different world. But every year at Unilever has been interesting. I have worked at Unilever for 24 years. Everybody is very happy I am here.

It is less than a year since you came and took up your position in Turkey. How did you find the company?
Unilever Türkiye is a very successful company. At Unilever, we are one of the top ten worldwide. We are successful in terms of turnover. The top item on my agenda is continuing this success. Turkey is a country which operates under difficult conditions. Being able to maintain success under difficult conditions is very important.~
At the same time, I believe that one of the most important factors is increasing employee job satisfaction while being successful. This is the most critical equation. My most important targets are as follows: Maintaining success, maintaining employee job satisfaction and advancing employee personal development.

What are you doing in order to achieve these goals?
We are a very big matrix organization. We have a lot of brands in a lot of categories. For this reason, we are trying to simplify the daily procedures of our employees. We are being flexible in order to enable them to devote more time to their private lives. And personal development is very important.

We work very hard to allow Turkish executives at Unilever to develop themselves and become global executives. We have 75 executives who are working abroad in Unilever companies. The more we can increase this number the better.

At the end of 2012, Unilever had a turnover of TL 3.5 billion. How was 2013?
2013 was one of our best years. We recorded double digit growth and, at the same time, we recorded profitable growth. Even more importantly, we recorded competitive growth. We gained market share in almost 85 per cent of our business. We gained market share in nine out of ten of our businesses. We secured a turnover of more than $1.5 billion,

In which categories did you gain market share? Have there been changes in your rankings?
In the ice cream, detergents and hair care categories, we are both the market leaders and growing rapidly. We have very strong market shares in household care products. We did extremely good business there. One should not just grow but grow competitively and grow faster than one’s rivals.~

It was also a year in which we succeeded in doing this. We have made a good start to 2014. According to Nielsen’s data for year-end 2013, in terms of value, we are the market leaders in ice cream, detergent, shampoo, deodorant, instant soup, bouillon, tea bags, sauces and fabric softener. And there are also many categories in which our “lovemark” brand is number one.

Where does Turkey stand in the Unilever world?
Turkey is one of the top ten countries at Unilever. One should not just look at the figures. Turkey is one of Unilever’s best companies. We are at a very good level in terms of quality of personnel and brand strength in particular. We are the best company in Turkey in terms of developing leaders.

We are proud of this. This is very important in terms of being successful in difficult years. Your chances of surviving difficult times are as good as the strength of your brands and the quality of your personnel. If you have a group which is motivated to overcome these things then it is so easy to do so.

What position does innovation occupy on your agenda?
It is extraordinarily important. Innovation is absolutely vital in every category. The precondition for competitive growth is the right kind of innovation. From that perspective, we are very fortunate. Most of our brand development team live in Istanbul.

 Istanbul is the center where both our local marketing and our brand development teams are located. When think that this is extremely useful. We have serious innovation plans in every category for 2014. We entered 2014 well prepared to put them to the test.

Turkish consumers used to lag far behind those in Europe in terms of personal care. Is this still the case?
When you look at the global figures, Turkey is below the global average in consumption in virtually every category. Personal care is the least developed market in Turkey. Products such as shampoo and deodorant are far below the global norms in terms both of penetration and consumption.~

There is a long way to go in personal care. When you look at the figures, it is our personal care business which is growing fastest. We are introducing innovations in every category. Most of our rivals are global players and they are also pursuing innovations.

What are Unilever’s medium- and longterm goals in Turkey?
We shall continue by dividing 2014 into tiny, tiny pieces and moving forward like that. This is how I see the end of the year and no one can say anything else. But, when it comes to double digit growth, our future is clear, as is what will happen to our turnover and profitability.

We are targeting growing more in developing countries than in developed countries. Except for a possible variation of 1- 2 percentage points there won’t be any deviation from this goal and things will continue like this.

Türkiye ve dünya ekonomisine yön veren gelişmeleri yorulmadan takip edebilmek için her yeni güne haber bültenimiz “Sabah Kahvesi” ile başlamak ister misiniz?


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