Founded seven years ago under motto “Just respect stone”, Venus Stones is focused on import, production and distribution of stone, with 20% market share.
“The cornerstone of the company was seven years ago when the first logistic office in Otopeni was opened by Valer Rusu, which covered 3,000 sqm. Afterwards, the logistic storage room was relocated in Chitila which now covers 10,000 and that we plan to expand by another 10.000,” Andrei Anghelescu added.
Venus Stones’ clients’ portfolio includes developers or general entrepreneurs that carry out major construction projects.
“Materials are usually imported, because the range of stones is wider, the quality is higher and the costs of materials are lower. According to the type of stone, they are imported from different regions of the world, mainly from China, Turkey, India, Egypt, Brazil and Spain,” Venus Stones representative mentioned.
The delivery of the stone is made within 45/60 days, given its home country.
“If an entrepreneur wants custom-made plywood, then we order it from our provider, which frames it in a certain production line, and the delivery deadline may be postponed by 30-40 days, given the quantity and type of the product. The transportation is made by sea, which last between 25 and 35 days,” Arghirescu added.
As in 2008, the residential market backed down compared to 2007, the stoneware industry didn’t.
“Certainly, 2008 was a more profitable year than 2007, as the slowdown does not affect us immediately. The finishing works are the final phases of a construction, and for a real estate to be completed this year, its construction started two years ago. Furthermore, it is possible to feel the effects of a market slowdown within merely two years,” Andrei Arghirescu pointed out.
He explained he did not believe in a residential segment stagnation, but a slowdown of sale pace and a growth of dwelling built for own purposes.
“390,000 housing units were delivered nationwide in 2006, and in 2007, the growth is estimated at 30%. These units must be finished and for cold plywood there are three or four solutions: ceramics, natural stone or composite. Obviously, residential market growth is our business motor,” Venus Stones representative said.
According to him, as of last year, market share of cities in the country started to grow, Venus Stones registering biggest demand in Timisoara after Bucharest.
”We are focused on cities in the country, as once the real estate industry in Bucharest nears saturation the number of real estate projects in the country started to mount; at first in large cities, namely Constanta, Timisoara, Cluj, Craiova, Arad and Sibiu and afterwards, second largest cities” Arghirescu added.
Although stoneware industry was developed in Romania a long time ago, taking for example Casa Poporului or the palaces in the country, the boom started four-five years ago, when clients’ demand was broader.
“The stone is an affective acquisition, it gives you another comfort than sandstone or glazes which are cold. Stone is flawless by definition, as it is natural sediment: it is uncontrollable, has multiple color variants, while ceramics is linear. However, at a medium level, the difference cannot exceed 10%,” Venus Stones representatives stated.
According to him, stone market is upgrading, and the sandstone and glazes are still the main option of final clients, while developers and entrepreneurs know the difference between sandstone and natural stone, being determined to use finishing works with natural stone plywood.
“Our clients are 60% Business to Business (B2B), and 40% Business to Consumer (B2C). Out target is to rise to 75% B2C share and 25% share for B2B” Andrei Arghirescu explained, stressing that it is absolutely necessary for the client to see and to have a full picture of what is buying.
“The stone is not a perfect, and well-defined product, but natural sediment. Our client is not buying a crude stone, he comes, and asks for additional information: traffic resistance, waterproof, what are the recommendations for use, if it is best to use outdoors or indoors”, he said.
At present, Venus Stones has 55 employees and operates in five locations: Bucharest, Constanta, Craiova, Timisoara and Oradea. For next year, the company aims at developing own upstream unit in the country, expanding head office and enhancing workforce.
“We target EUR 10 million turnover in 2009 by infrastructure development: storage room and upstream unit. We will develop a G+1 building, at the first floor there will be the administrative staff, while the ground floor will shelter the showroom and sale offices” Venus Stones representative pointed out.
The new head office will start operating within 6-8 months, and once its expansion, the company workforce will increase by 30%, up to 70-75.
“We plan on developing the own upstream unit together with a new channel through local vendors. At present, distribution towards clients is made by own means (75%) and off-shored means, according to the volume” Andrei Arghirescu added.
Profile of Andrei Arghirescu , Venus Stones’ managing director
Aged 27, Andrei Arghirescu is Managing Director at Venus Stones, and for one year he was General Manager with the real estate division of Eka Investment Group, Eka Development, controlled by businessman Emil Pop.
“I learned many things from Eka Development, but the core lesson that changed my approach on everything that is business was the Romanian-Canadian MBA that I finished this year.”
Translated and adapted by Camelia Oancea.
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