We asked Ramazan Sümer, General Manager of Saray Bisküvi, a few questions regarding the industry, the company and its state 55 years after first starting.
Could you please, briefly present Saray Biskuvi – history, number of employees and some of your flagship products?
The foundations of Saray were laid as a family-run enterprise by Kamil Özdağ in 1961. Saray started to manufacture guest candies, toffee candies, rock candies and Turkish delights under the name of SARAY Limited Company in 1979. Factory manufacturing started in 1981 for the categories of Saray-labelled biscuits, wafers, chocolate, cakes, crackers and candies, to the satisfaction of taste of customers. Following the expansion of Karaman facility, and of our company, Kırklareli Saray Factory started its production. We are honored to say that our production facility in Kırklareli is one of the biggest in Turkey and our region.
We have a rich range of assortments and patents covering them. We can list our major products as follows: Chocolips and Offtime under the category of cake; Powernut under the category of chocolate coated bar; Eldenele Gofret under the category of wafer; Cralips under the category of salty snacks and crackers; 100 Kalori (100 Calories) family and Yulaflı Kremalı (Oat Biscuits with Milk Cream) with under the category of healthy life; Çikilop, Çikilopçuk and Bistella under the category of biscuit. We take the issue of customer health with great sensitivity, in the light of global and scientific values we attach to the taste of our products developed.
As for the employment figures of our company, we have approximately 1500 employees in our facilities in Karaman and Kırklareli and our Flour Factory. We manufacture products that bring happiness. We question ourselves and our work to ensure that our employees are also just like our consumers. Employee satisfaction is very important for us.
Your company was established in 1981. Please, indicate which are the main milestones of your company when it comes to investment in new facilities and opening new markets?
After the foundation of our first factory in 1981, our company was expanded in time and Kırklareli factory of Saray Bisküvi commenced its production activity in 1996. Our production facility in Kırklareli is one of the largest in Turkey and the region accommodating Turkey.
We made our first export in 1987 and now we are exporting our Saray-labelled products to more than 110 countries.
As part of our investments abroad, we opened our subsidiary production facilities in Ukraine in 1998 and Cidde in 2003 to produce biscuits, chocolate, cake and candies. Our production facilities enjoying the most cutting edge technologies of the world are among the most modern and high-capacity facilities in the region and Europe.
We participated in the Turquality Program last year. It is the first and only brand building program subsidized by the state in the world. Under this Program, we accelerated our efforts to make better moves into foreign markets and revised our targets accordingly.
We break grounds both in Turkey and in the world, by making continuous innovations and following customer trends and habits. We offer numerous new products every year to the satisfaction of customers, thanks to our innovation system.
In summary, our trademark is the product of our professional experience of 55 years and industrial experience of 35 years.
As I understand, company’s specialty is that it mainly produces chocolate biscuits. Is there any particular reason for this decision?
Our trademark does not focus on chocolate biscuits. As a company with professional experience of 55 years and industrial experience of 35 years, Saray Bisküvi produces 50 thousand tons of biscuits, crackers, wafers, chocolates, cakes and candies every year. Our love and diligence stand at the heart of our production activity.
Your main markets are North America, South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa. What countries are in your development plan as new markets and what channels do you use to find new customers in the international market?
We work very hard in order to reach our import target as Saray family. We continuously strive to bring our brands to life in marketplaces abroad and achieve vertical and horizontal growth in the markets where we operate. Recently we identified Europe as our target market.
We initiated various strategic partnerships in order to introduce our products at higher number of points to consumers in Germany, Holland, United Kingdom and Sweden. For the next five years, our target markets of highest priority are United Kingdom, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Jordan and Azerbaijan. Thanks to the outstanding trade shows in which we participated this year, we had the opportunity to initiate meaningful cooperation with various countries.
Do you work, and to what extent, on your company’s online presence in the international market?
We seek to continue the success we achieved at home through our wide range of assortments and established distribution channels abroad as well. This is why online sale channels are very important for us. The growth of our trademark which is registered in 120 countries today will continue both in domestic market and the foreign markets, with our delicious, healthy products supported by a strong culture of innovation. Our objective is to be world trademark company by 2023.
Turkey is known for its tradition of biscuit production, chocolate and other kinds of sweets. Please, compare the size and impact of your company to other well-known Turkish manufacturers. How do you see the future of baking and biscuit industry? In which direction will its development go over the next 10 or 15 years?
The recent research reveals that the Turkish biscuit market will reach 2.7 billion TL by 2020. As one of the leading actors of this market, we continue our investments without any interruption. In addition, we are doing our best to fulfill our share to achieve the 2023 export target of Turkey (500 billion USD).
Saray Biskuvi ranked among the top 100 companies with highest growth rate in Turkey, by 82% between 2010 – 2012. This success was proved with the inclusion to the “Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Turkey”, which is a project implemented by TOBB (the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey) and in partnership of TEPAV (Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey), under the guidance of All World Network, with a view to increase the visibility of successful companies on an international level.
We believe that our achievements set the point we stand apart from those of our rivals.
What do you think, why a large number of customers decide to buy your products? What sets you apart from others?
The increasing diversity, quality and flavor of our products are the most important reasons for our consumers’ preference of our products. The relationship of confidence and the continuity of the flavor we offer both distinguish us from our rivals and also ensures the continuity of the relationship we build with consumers.
Are you planning to increase employment in your company and, if so, to what extent? Are you planning to hire new staff in Turkey or in branch offices in other countries?
Since its foundation, our company has been growing consistently. We will continue to increase the number of our employees both at home and abroad in the following period.
You became the General Director of Saray Biscuit ve Gida San A.S. a year ago in October 2015. Since you have started to lead the company, which goals have you set? What is your vision for the future of the company on the local and international market in the coming period?
I feel honored to be a member of Saray Bisküvi family which has come a long way in terms of growth, profitability and service quality and produces at the world standards. One of my goals is to advance this company which achieved remarkable success even further both at home and abroad, with my teammates. We plan to achieve a compound growth rate of %25 under our 5 Year Strategic Plan.
Saray Biscuit is located in town called Karaman in central Anadolia. Do you use and to what extent, raw materials or products of local manufacturers in the production of your cookies?
Saray Bisküvi supports local producers by procuring its raw materials from local manufacturers, primarily the local subsidiaries of Saray Holding in Karaman and Kırklareli.