DIRECT TO MARKET

Kazakhstan 2016 | TOURISM & RETAIL | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Serzhan Alybayev, General Manager of Zepter, on growth in Kazakhstan and the benefit of the direct sales business.

Serzhan Alybayev
BIOGRAPHY
Serzhan Alybayev was born in Almaty in 1968 and graduated with technical and juridical degrees. He started his career at Zepter at its inception in Kazakhstan. After serving as Executive Director, he was appointed as General Manager in 2012.

What has Zepter accomplished since it entered the Kazakhstani market?

We started here in 1995 and in November 2015 we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Zepter is an international company that produces, sells, and distributes exclusive, high-quality consumer goods around the world, principally through its own sales network and through high-end stores. Since its inception, Zepter International has established high-quality standards and become an essential part of the lives of millions of people around the world. Zepter International owns eight factories, in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy and has over 350,000sqm of space in the world's best locations. Zepter has been in Kazakhstan since 1995. At that time, it was trying to get set up in all of the former USSR countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. Our operations have grown rapidly. We started here in Almaty and subsequently opened bureaus in the 14 regions of the country. In 2001 we bought our own building and each year develop our facilities. Zepter is part of one of the biggest industries in the world—the direct sales industry—and our representatives are a part of the 89.7 million individuals around the world representing such companies.

What products are the most popular in Kazakhstan?

Every year we introduce new products. We started with pots made from high-quality stainless steel. We also have drinking sets, cutlery, porcelain, air and water cleaners, as well as Bioptron Light Therapy systems and cosmetics. Our sales are mostly attributed to our pots, and the core of our sales are in the country's major cities of Almaty, Astana, and Shymkent, as well as good sales figures in the western regions in Aktau and Atyrau. We sell all this through our own network, with our sales representatives. It is a direct sales business and offers the best opportunity for those who realize the limitations that come with an office job. We sell our products only by presentation, because Zepter products are the best on the market, so to get all advantages of our products and correctly know how to use them, the client has to listen a presentation, where our representatives provide customers with all necessary information. At the moment we have about 2,000 people working as sales representatives. In the past this figure reached as high as 5,000. Generally, our representatives are happy working with us and enjoy the opportunity to share in our work ethic and philosophy.

What are your main goals and expectations for the year ahead?

Everybody knows there is a crisis in the global economy, and also in Kazakhstan. However, people will always want to eat, and in general people are becoming more aware of healthy eating and cooking practices. They wish to cook in quality pots to live healthily, drink clear water, and breathe without air pollution. All of these problems can be solved by Zepter products. Our business has slowed to some extent recently with the devaluation of the currency. While this is the case at present, we are positive about the future. We want to share our philosophy of good health and good life with the people. The industry and the company we work for become even more relevant in times of economic crises. Our market is being affected by currency devaluation and reduced purchasing power. But those who are knowledgeable of history will know that the direct sales industry was born in the middle of the great depression in America, after the fall of the stock exchange, as the most resistant and most adaptable form of business. In harsh times when other industries are laying off their staff and reducing costs through other means, our jobs are secure and earnings stay above average.