Best Business Days in Serbia Yet to Come

April 08, 2008

Best Business Days in Serbia Yet to Come

Aleksandar Bukumirović, ASBIS Serbia's country manager, talks about distribution trends in the Balkan region in his interview to IT Europa.

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IT Europa, an authoritative magazine devoted to the European IT channel, has published its regular survey of the Balkan IT markets. Aleksandar Bukumirović, ASBIS Serbia's country manager, has provided his view on the developments in the region.

Aleksandar Bukumirović - ASBIS Serbia- How have the IT markets in Serbia and FYR Macedonia changed over the last year?

The IT market in Serbia is growing, constantly, but unpredictably, mainly due to the political turmoil in the past 6-9 months. The Q4 2007 demand was lower than expected, again mainly due to the presidential elections in December. Overall speaking, the Serbian market is potentially strong, but it grows much slower than it could. The general observation could be: the best business days are yet to come!

- What trends do you observe and how is your business developing there?

Local ASBIS office in Serbia performed outstandingly and managed to achieve a growth of over 60% compared to year 2006. The fact that it is the only ‘foreign’ IT components distributor, and that as such brings the strength and stability of the ‘mother company’ – helps improving its business results from year to year.

There is, unfortunately, totally opposite picture with FYR Macedonia: the market is still influenced by black market offer, and only by the end of last year certain companies from the region have tried to open, or re-open, their subsidiaries in Skopje – with poor results, to the best of my knowledge.

ASBIS Serbia - Sales AreaASBIS is present there through its office in Serbia, but we only supply for certain tender needs, from time to time. The fact that there are no foreign banks to support business development, by issuing bank guarantees to local companies, has a negative impact on the scale of the business maintained there.  

- How would you describe the IT market in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania?

In Montenegro the situation is similar to FYR Macedonia, with the difference that - due to Russian capital invested in real estate business - they might have more money to spend, in general and in IT in particular. We have cooperated with some firms there, for years, but black market is also present there to a certain extent.

The point is, at least in my opinion, and as for ASBIS, the business in these 'remote' markets can be properly done without local presence.

As for Macedonia - we will try to conduct business there from the Serbian office, more and more, by empowering one person as a Sales Representative.

Albania is totally out of Serbian reach, due to political and ethnic problems.

- Do you expect any growth in Bosnia & Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, and Montenegro in the coming year that would make their markets more attractive to distributors?

One thing should be very clear to all the 'foreigners' interested in the 'region': when we talk about any of these countries (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia), we are actually talking about their capitals and a couple of other main cities. And that's clearly not enough, but these are the places where a major part of business transactions are conducted.
YES, there is a potential for IT market development in the remaining parts of former Yugoslavia countries (except from Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia), but NOT for the biggest disties. ASIBS, on the other hand, is in a position to serve all the region, due to its strategy and presence in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia - for 10 years already.

Therefore, if the political situation allows it, ASBIS will significantly grow its presence in these territories!

- Can you also say which product groups are in highest demand in these countries now?

From components distribution perspective, the main components business is leading, of course, due to the low percentage of PCs at home and in companies. However, stylish products, as well as end user products (mainly HP and Samsung) are also in high demand. As for other products, mobile phones, TVs, LCD TVs, and other end-user products are by far the most popular...


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