Modernization and recovery of retail despite the war
In Ukraine, during the period of hostilities, the company almost did not stop cooperation with Ukrainian clients. Although part of the projects was frozen by the customers, Ukrainian companies do not plan to give up development. Since further development prospects in retail are closely related to the transition to systems with ecological refrigerants, in regions where there were no hostilities, retailers continue to modernize refrigeration equipment systems. At the same time, in the de-occupied territories, business began to actively restore their stores. Vyacheslav Mokhov, CEO of Ralco Technic, told how his company rebuilt its production business processes and helps businesses to launch their work faster, taking into account current changes in the market
– Vyacheslav, good day! Many companies were forced to stop work or to greatly reduce volumes. Briefly, what are your current affairs in the company?
Good day to you! In short – the company is working.
– That is, you did not stop work at all, even with the start of hostilities? After all, your head office is located in Mykolaiv, where it was not easy at first and now it can be said the same.
As you know, we have more than a hundred employees in Ukraine, in various departments, some of whom work remotely, many guys are in the Armed Forces, some of the employees work in the office in Ukraine, the installation and service guys, of course, work at the facilities. It took us some time to rebuild, but it was relatively quick because for the previous two years we built and tested interaction models between offices, and employees, optimally automated business processes, and remote control of tasks. The Polish and German divisions of the company work as usual.
– Many companies have frozen investments in current projects, or are waiting for better times. You, like any other company, are dependent on customers. What is your current situation?
Currently, part of the projects are frozen by the customers, but this does not mean that the engineering and preparatory work on our side is stopped. We clearly understand that the end of hostilities will happen in any case, and the installation work that we had to do in a calm mode will have to be done much faster. We are constantly in touch with our Clients, we clearly understand their needs, we decide together how to coordinate work. In the future, we will have to solve some additional tasks of a logistical nature, because our company transferred part of the vehicles to the Armed Forces, and some of them work for the needs of volunteers.
– Most of your customers are food retailers, which of them are currently continuing development?
Large companies continue to operate, within their means, because they have financial reserves and/or international investments. In April, we completed a very interesting project at the METRO store in Ivano-Frankivsk, where refrigerators and freezers with CO2 refrigerant were installed. This is the company’s second CO2 HUB. All activities were completed on time within 10 days, despite problems with logistics and production at the initial stage. We are starting a new project on CO2, as further development prospects in retail are closely related to the transition to systems with ecological refrigerants, where our company already has good expertise. Also, regional networks are gradually resuming operations.
– In which regions are the most active restoration of stores now?
Right now, we are actively engaged in restoration and repair work in the South and Center of Ukraine. In Mykolaiv, most of the equipment was restored, in Irpin and the suburbs of Kyiv, work is already underway to diagnose and start up the stores that were shelled.
– There is still a risk of damage to shops in the south and east, are the owners now relocating their business outside these regions?
Yes, there are requests from customers who decided to move the equipment to another location, and it is necessary to carry out dismantling. This is no less difficult work, the more accurately it is performed, the easier it is to mount everything again.
– In some regions, shops have suffered significant destruction, from your point of view, how badly have the shops been affected, or is it difficult to restore them?
We see for some objects that the equipment in most cases is subject to restoration and repair, this is due to the fact that the main units and units are not on the facades of buildings, but in closed rooms or in protective structures, but of course in about 30% of cases it is necessary to promptly mount and configure new units. The same applies to equipment at industrial facilities. To date, we have carried out several retrofits at large food processing plants where refrigeration systems were previously installed, and were generally able to get the equipment up and running quickly.
– A significant number of stores did not stop working, and the number of service specialists was reduced, they changed their location of residence, so the question arises, how do you work now, are there enough workers?
The service department works as usual: the response to emergency requests practically did not stop, planned maintenance work resumed as soon as the Clients were ready for it. Unfortunately, we had to suspend the service in the temporarily occupied region – Kherson and the region. We service more than two hundred objects and hundreds of units of equipment under monitoring, so the monitoring of objects in Ukraine and abroad did not stop – work in such conditions gradually improved, as part of the staff works remotely.
– Restoration work sometimes requires replacement of equipment, are there currently problems with the supply of equipment, are manufacturers and distributors working?
To be honest, even before the war there were some questions about the terms of delivery, especially regarding equipment with the use of electronics. Major component suppliers are struggling to meet their obligations. Our company also has its own warehouse of the necessary components, thanks to which we were able to complete a number of large projects in the previous three months.
– We see that not only retailers now have some complications, but also industrial enterprises and farmers. Are there any investments in their development now?
In general, yes. We carried out a major modernization of the refrigeration equipment at the poultry plant in the Odesa region. Installation of three large freezers in Kyiv region, we continue to carry out work in the agricultural sector in Cherkasy region, where there will be installation of a large fruit storage warehouse. The construction of a berry complex for cooling, sorting and storage of products in the Kyiv region was completed. In general, I see that there is activity in the western regions and we are happy about it. Also, there has been an increase in requests for calculations and projects from those customers with whom we have not worked before, perhaps this is a consequence of the fact that other companies in our industry have suspended their work. For our part, we have every opportunity to actively work with them now, so I hope that everything will be fine with them and that we will be able to be useful to each other.