We are currently evaluating opportunities in Turkey and abroad. Acquiring is exciting, but we also care about organic growth. We are again enthusiastic about acquisitions.
Yıldız Holding Chairman Ali Ülker made statements about holding investments and future plans at the conference where he met with press. Ülker stated that Yıldız Holding, which continues its profitable growth with its focus strategy, continues to contribute to the Turkish economy with its strong financial performance and stability. He said that they became a global player with Godiva, but their growth projections have always developed around an understanding that keeps Turkey at the center.
Ülker stated that they continued to grow with global brands with the acquisition of United Biscuits in the next period, and that they ranked second in global biscuit production. Ülker stated that Yıldız Holding has become a global Turkish company with its cooperation with foreign companies that are the leaders of its sector and with strategic acquisitions abroad and added, "In other words, we have become a giant global Turkish company on which the sun never sets."
Talking about the contributions of the Godiva brand to them, Ülker stated that today Godiva branded products are being sent to many countries from Istanbul. Ülker reminded the production bases located in different geographies and explained the contribution this situation has made to the company in the regional economic bottlenecks experienced from time to time.
"We offer products and services to the whole world"
Ali Ülker stated that Yıldız Holding, which focuses on food and retail, offers products and services to the whole world, and said that the Turkish Flag and the flags bearing the Yıldız Holding logo were waving in at their facilities in the UK, France, USA, Italy, Nigeria, Egypt, Romania, Saudi Arabia, India, Brunei, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands.
Ülker pointed out that the holding, which puts Turkey at its center, makes a significant economic contribution to the country with its sales and export revenues and that they sell the value-added businesses that they have grown with their experience as companies with high profitability levels, and that they provide resources for the main businesses.
Speaking about the companies Yıldız Holding has sold in recent years, Ülker said that they have shifted to a simpler and more manageable structure by focusing on their main business lines, food and retail. Ülker stated that there are a total of 46 factories, 25 of which are in Turkey, within the structure of the Holding, hundreds of products and projects are developed in 9 R&D centers every year, and these products are offered to consumers all over the world and talked about the activities of R&D teams of Ülker, Kerevitaş, Besler and Ülker Bisküvi.
"Our turnover has reached 100 billion TRY"
Pointing out that they currently have approximately 72 thousand domestic and international employees, Ülker said that 61,884 of them are employed in Turkey. Ülker explained that 8 companies within the holding are open to the public, that the processes are completely transparent and independent, and that the management team is becoming more global day by day. Ülker expressed that their turnover has increased by 2.3 times in the last 4 years and reached 100 billion TL by 2021. He stated that 40 percent of this turnover is foreign-based income.
Informing that the total domestic and international investments increased to 2.2 billion TRY last year, Ülker said, "Our total domestic and international investment in the last 5 years has reached 7 billion TRY. The budgeted investment amount for 2022 for our companies in Turkey is 2.5 billion TRY."
"Our debt decreased from $6.5 billion to $1.7 billion dollars"
Ali Ülker reminded that in addition to the public offering processes of Şok and Penta, they sold Med Gıda, Aktül Kağıt, Kellogg, Ak Alev, Sebat, Özen, Della, Nesos, Unmaş, Kümaş, İçecek Grubu, Propak, Cafe Crown and Pendik Nişasta and also operations of Godiva in 4 countries. Ülker stated that before syndication they have reduced their debts from 6.5 billion dollars in 2018 to 1.7 billion dollars as of 2022 and that they had sold $2.6 billion of assets for this and used a portion of $1.3 billion from the licensing of Godiva.
"Our debt, which was $6.5 billion before syndication, fell to $1.7 billion," said Ülker. He stated that despite the COVID-19 conditions, they made full payments before date. "In other words, whatever the circumstances are, we continued to support our country's financial system and advanced our debts to the banks in Turkey, with the income we earned as a result of our hard work, investment and self-sacrifice," Ülker said.
Snacks exported to more than 100 countries including USA and China
Ülker stated that they made an export of 678 million dollars in 2021. The total figure has reached 3.6 billion dollars in the last 5 years, and the annual average is around 700 million dollars. He stated that they have made Turkey a production and export base and said that in addition to Ülker branded products, they produce global snack brands such as Godiva, McVitie's and Flipz and send them to consumers all over the world. Noting that an export of 291 million dollars were made in snacks under Ülker Bisküvi, Ülker stated that they exported snacks to over 100 countries, including the USA, the UK, China, Kenya, Australia, Madagascar, the Netherlands and Ghana.
Talking about their activities in the retail sector, Ali Ülker said that they are in an important spurt on online retail side and that they continue their cooperation. Reminding that they took over Şok with 1,200 branches, Ülker said, "Today, we are heading towards the 10 thousandth store in the 10th year. We will celebrate the 10th thousandth store in the fall of 2022. Şok is one of our dynamo companies in terms of employment. We have reached 42 thousand in employment. Our target is 50 thousand."
Ülker stated that they have made a great contribution to the fight against inflation through Şok Marketler, and that the price increase has been 5-7 points below the inflation in the same category for the last two years, and said, "We enable our customers to access high-quality products at prices below the market average in our nearly 10 thousand stores across 81 provinces."
Ülker referred to the fact that online retailing is a growing trend all over the world and explained that they also developed the Cepteşok application and that they deliver online orders to addresses with electric vehicles. Noting that the number of daily orders has already exceeded 10 thousand, Ali Ülker reported that online sales took a 1.5 percent share of the total sales in its infancy.
"We conduct research on company acquisition"
Yıldız Holding Chairman of Ülker reminded that Şok and Bizim Toptan formed a cooperative-like structure by combining their purchasing power and product portfolio and said that the number of Seç Markets, where local tradesmen can easily access national brands and include regional and local products, has exceeded 1,900. Ülker shared information about Bizim Toptan, stated that the number of stores reached 173 and talked about the advantages offered by stores in the retail sector.
Noting that Ülker's turnover reached 5.9 billion TRY in the first quarter, Ülker said, "Last year, its domestic operations grew by 27.4 percent, while exports and internationals grew by 31.5%. In the last 2 years, we have brought more than 150 new products with the consumer in Turkey. The turnover share of new products in the domestic market was 14 percent, and the turnover share in the international market was 10 percent."
Commenting on his new investments, Ali Ülker said: "We are again enthusiastic about acquisitions. We are currently evaluating opportunities in Turkey and abroad. Acquiring is exciting, but we also care about organic growth. We examine companies in Turkey. We are looking at geographies that will provide us with opportunities abroad, globally. We are looking at new geographies where we can get stronger and make a breakthrough.
Ülker noted that some of the countries they focus on are Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, they are also evaluating the opportunities there, their growth in the USA continues and that they see developing countries as more advantageous.
"The strategy of investing in people is at the center of our business"
Ülker, Chairman of Yıldız Holding, talked about how crucial innovation is for them, how they closely follow technology, especially IoT and industry 4.0, the digital projects they have implemented, the value they attach to technology, and the projects they want to implement through Yıldız Tech organization.
Ülker referred to their support to start-ups, talked about the merger of Kerevitaş and Besler, the investments made in agriculture, and the support given to farmers within the frame of Şok supermarket chain's "From Farm to Fork" project and SuperFresh's "Zero Food Loss from Soil to Plate Project." Ülker provided information on corporate governance principles and global values, and shared details about the work carried out in these areas. Ülker also expressed that they prioritize investing in people and said that the training programs they implement as part of the "investment in people strategy" they implement for employees who are always at the center of the business. He didn't ignore to mention that they offer equal opportunities, inclusiveness, the Women's Platform, the Job Talent Program, the satellite model, and the opportunity to work outside the office.
Ali Ülker presented assessments about the criticisms regarding the hikes in discount chain stores and said: "For example, Şok supermarket targets a turnover of 40 billion TRY. If it earns 1 billion, it will make a profit of 2.5 percent. If it earns 2 billion, this is 5 percent. These profits have to be. Why "If you are going to open a new store and create jobs, there is an investment cost. Not every newly opened store makes money from the first day. Citizens are aware that the average price increase in discount markets is 7-8 percent lower than the inflation. The prices are not the same due to the lack of competition or an agreement. It is because the market moves at the lowest possible. The lowest price is being targeted. Our prices are, I would claim, the best in the market."
In his assessment of the price hikes, Ülker made the following statements: "No supermarket raised the sale prices. I am assertive about this. None of them sell by putting an extra price on what they bought. We were buying for 90 liras and selling for 100 liras. What we buy for 100 liras, we sell it for 110 liras. The margin is 11 percent in 90, but the margin decreases to 10 percent when the prices go up to 100. Our gross profit has shrunk as the years pass and as productivity increases. If the producer's inputs increase and the producer comes to us and says, "I have to increase the prices", we may manage to convince the producers and industrialists not to make a raise to a certain level. However, after a certain point, you must pave the way for them to continue their lives and you must not let your suppliers go bankrupt. Markets did not raise. They sacrificed their margins. As of the point we have reached, we remained under the inflation rate."