TBY talks to Abdolbari Goozal, Chairman of the Board at Azersun, on the background of the company, internationalization, and opportunities in food processing.
TBY What is the background of Azersun?
ABDOLBARI GOOZAL Azersun started its operations back in 1991 in Azerbaijan. At that time, Azerbaijan was at war and the country was suffering from a lack of food. We brought food products into the market and solved the problem partially. We sold food products at suitable prices according to the demand of the people. After 1996, we established factories producing tea, butter, sugar, and canned food. Right now, we have the strongest sales network in the region. Azersun Holding has implemented crucial projects in the agriculture sector.
What are the values that lead your enterprise to its leading position in the Azerbaijani market?
In every job we do, we aim for quality. That’s why all of our products are made with the utmost care and diligence.
How many employees do your companies employ in total?
We employ almost 6,000 people. However, including all of our side sectors the number exceeds 100,000. That makes us very happy.
How do your companies work together to further global development in the agribusiness sector?
Azersun Holding enterprises are managed by one system. On top of all, there is company etiquette. This systematizes the company approach. All my personnel own their own job and they are a source of pride for me. We are growing faster because of them. The synergy comes from the respect and good relations among them, and by them believing in what they do.
How do you ensure a high standard of produce?
We don’t present any products to our customers that we wouldn’t eat at our own tables at home. We aim for quality. In all our factories, we have modern laboratories, which work under a quality-control system. Our factories work according to ISO standards.
How do you promote your business practices?
Azersun Holding has its own lifestyle. Our philosophy consists of important values like business etiquette, being sensitive to the environment, and being open to new things. In every area that we operate, like agriculture, construction, and manufacturing, we seek to demonstrate our values.
Through your history, you have always had ties with foreign countries. What does this international feature represent today?
We attend exhibitions and conferences in different countries. We are very proud to represent the brand “Made in Azerbaijan”. Our continuously developing enterprises understand the responsibility of representing the country in every exhibition or conference that they attend to promote Azerbaijan.
How have your production facilities developed over time? Are there any plans to expand them?
Our holding is growing faster because of President Ilham Aliyev’s attention and concern in developing the private sector. Azerbaijan’s economy has started to open up, and now Azerbaijani companies can establish enterprises in neighboring counties.
How is your network outside of Azerbaijan?
Our sales network is the strongest distribution network in the Caucasus. Our factory production covers national demand.
In what respect has the global crisis affected your business and what mechanisms have you implemented to overcome this period?
If I say we weren’t affected by the economic crisis, it wouldn’t be true. We work internationally and have partners in many countries, and so the crisis had an impact. However, our company philosophy is established on quality and human capital. During the economic crisis, we only delayed our investment projects.
What opportunities do you see for foreign investment in the food-processing sector in Azerbaijan?
First of all, investors should respect the country’s people and law. They should be aware of its law. In every country, quality products find their own customers. We always use a professional approach in assessing product demand and performing market research. Firstly, we always learn the relationship between supply and demand. I don’t believe in entering a market without first making market and consumer research. The food industry loves quality. Everybody wants to bring home quality products and quality bread to their home. In Azerbaijan, this love of quality has created opportunities for all investors in different sectors.
What is your general outlook for the agribusiness sector in the near future?
Azerbaijan has great potential in the agriculture, industry, and tourism sectors. The government is taking very significant steps to develop the infrastructure of these sectors and the effort is already evident. If we didn’t have government support, we couldn’t have these attractive projects in Azerbaijan as a whole. President Ilham Aliyev is very dynamic and visionary. He sees Azerbaijan’s future and takes a strong interest in all reforms. I believe Azerbaijan’s future will be great because our country’s economic policy depends on economic diversification, by investing oil and gas revenues in developing other areas of the non-oil sector. In addition, the globalization of the world economy has meant there are few border constraints in the economic sense. There are very few countries left that are not open to the world, and so Azerbaijan is a very attractive location for foreign
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