We talk distribution and supply chains and strategic innovations with Ioana Boghenco, General Manager of Interbrands Orbico – Romania’s leading logistics company and distributor of sought-after brands.
AGILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY WITH A GLOBAL DISTRIBUTOR
Following a 2021 merger, Interbrands Orbico is now part of the Croatian Orbico Group, Europe’s leading distributor.
The union of four local companies – Orbico, Orbico Beauty, Interbrands and Professional Brands – Interbrands Orbico went on to exceed €1 billion in turnover in 2022.
As a result, the newly formed company has become the largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and beauty care product distributor and logistics service provider in Romania.
The company offers global brands across diverse categories such as household, food and beverage, personal care, tobacco, toys, beauty and style, and has partnered with the likes of Phillip Morris International, Procter & Gamble, Kelloggs, Bolton (Rio Mare), Kraft Heinz, Lindt, Ekaterra (Lipton), Wella, Coty, Converse, Revlon, Philips, and Duracell.
“Our portfolio contains approximately 250 brands and 10,000 stock keeping units (SKUs), which are distributed to over 30,000 stores in Romania across all FMCG and beauty, modern and traditional channels both through our sales force and our new eB2B (e-commerce business-to-business) platform, covering 80 percent of the consumption market,” begins Ioana Boghenco, General Manager of Interbrands Orbico.
Boghenco joined Interbrands Orbico in 2019 and was appointed as the General Manager when the companies merged, having begun her career in the FMCG industry 13 years ago at Procter & Gamble, before changing direction from producer to distributor.
Following the merger, Romania became the largest out of the 20 European markets where Orbico Group operates. The new operation benefitted from the move by using synergies to their full potential to develop and improve the organisation and services, modernise processes and systems, streamline logistics capabilities, and maximise distribution channels.
“Our vision is to create value for our people, partners, customers and consumers by providing future-proof holistic solutions in the FMCG and beauty industries.”
This is achieved with a tailor-made solutions platform which includes omnichannel sales and marketing, logistics and other 3PL operations such as HR, training, information technology (IT), legal, and financial services.
NEW PRODUCT PLATFORM
A new eB2B platform was launched at the beginning of 2022, developed by Orbico Group IT’s digital and e-commerce team and localised in all key markets.
“We aim to serve all our traditional trade customers through the eB2B platform, complementing our sales force, and by the end of 2023 our target is to enrol all our customers who are not part of retail chains on the platform,” reveals Boghenco.
As customers develop the habit of ordering online, parallel to offline acquisitions, it will enable store owners to generate a better understanding of consumer insights.
“Not only will the role of our sales representatives be elevated to a level of ‘category management consultant’, but retailers can also evolve the incremental value through better customer-based design shelves and promotional displays, thus leading to a superior in-store presence,” she explains.
The product portfolio available on the platform is three times larger than the offline version, and so far, over 60 percent of the stores covered have enrolled on the platform.
“35 percent of onboarded customers go through to eB2B with the average order value of eB2B invoices 35 percent higher than their offline counterparts.”
For example, store owners are proactively buying into new categories online which they have not previously purchased offline. Additionally, they are buying 1.5 times more frequently than before and at their own convenience, as well as benefitting from more information and educational materials on the platform.
“We are communicating with our customers via SMS, newsletters which present hot new deals, and new tailor-made promotions relevant for their needs. We are extremely pleased with the results, which have exceeded our expectations,” Boghenco says optimistically.
The local digital and e-commerce team continues to develop new features for customers to benefit from in the future, eventually creating extra value.
A ‘FIT TO WIN’ STRATEGY
Interbrands Orbico considers people as its most important asset, beyond infrastructure, systems, or material assets. The post-merger motto is ‘Stronger Together’ because the organisation believes in the power of “one team”.
“We encourage all our colleagues to share their best ideas and contribute to the continuous development of the organisation – a large company like ours cannot be a one-person show,” emphasises Boghenco.
Trust is a key aspect in working as a united team, alongside communication and transparency.
Together with her board colleagues, Boghenco relies on extended leadership to guide and engage the large organisation to reach its highest potential, become motivated, and to be open for change, as change is the only constant in any organisation and business that aspire for accelerated progress.
“Regardless of our position in the company, trust and open communication about achievements and issues in equal parts is essential to find faster and more efficient solutions. The ‘Fit to Win’ strategy is about placing the right people in the right roles, leveraging their strengths and enabling them to grow and develop further. These are the people who will take our company to a brighter future. We want the entire organisation to be happy and to create extra value,” she tells us.
The strategy has been a success, leading to strong results combined with workplace satisfaction and talent retention.
Supply chains have navigated their fair share of challenges in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic is an obvious obstacle which the world has had to overcome, but significant inflation, labour shortages, equipment availability, and the ripple effect of global bottlenecks have all contributed to creating problems.
“Although COVID-19 disrupted logistics networks with longer road traffic routes and transit times, the most complex supply chain disruptor is the talent challenge,” states Boghenco.
“The skills that the world needs are changing, along with demographics and employee expectations. The combined effect of these monumental shifts is here to stay. Energy security is another key challenge to solve. Our economies rely heavily on oil and gas,” she adds.
Together, oil and gas accounts for almost 50 percent of the total energy supply in 2022; a switch to green electricity and low carbon transport fuels will therefore increase industrial and building efficiencies.
However, these challenges lead to the emergence of new and innovative trends in supply chains within the field of sustainability and automation solutions.
“Globally, all supply chain leaders are changing their perspective and managing their business based on diversifying supply chains, robotisation, automation, digitalisation, and eco-orientated solutions.”
Interbrands Orbico is committed to implementing the core environmental standards from warehouse construction to transportation.
“Nowadays, supply chain and sustainability are inseparable from each other, and our values are driven by them. We are mainly oriented in eco-efficiency, higher control on energy saving, and photovoltaic solutions,” Boghenco adds.
Interbrands Orbico has a three-year plan to modernise its systems which will bring a new era of development. As the company is constantly making progress in each business field, modernising is not just an option, but a necessity. With new innovations and systems, the goal is to become “the distributor of the 21st century”.
Last year’s milestone – the €1 billion turnover – is proof that Interbrands Orbico is quickly moving towards that title.
“We achieved this despite all the challenges because we have an amazing team that works well together. We believe that customers and suppliers are among the most important components of business development,” notes Boghenco.
Interbrands Orbico has strong ambitions for further growth behind clear development strategies and plans, in partnership with their suppliers and leveraging their infrastructure and capable organisation, with the aim to become the most innovative supplier and service provider on the market.
“This year, we plan to raise the bar and deliver another 15 percent growth by developing both the business and logistics sides of the company, through process digitisation and automation, the introduction of SAP, and upgrades to other IT systems. We also plan to turn our eB2B platform into a business-as-usual tool, improve our organisational well-being, capabilities and talent development, and upgrade our go-to-market structures,” Boghenco elaborates.
The arrival of new technologies has the potential to optimise supply chains in a strategic way, and by possessing the ‘Fit to Win’ attitude with the teams’ capabilities, Interbrands Orbico is on course for an exceptional 2023.