Prague, Czech Republic / Bratislava, Slovakia (PRWEB) June 27, 2012
Retail Solutions, http://www.retailsol.com a leading European retail advisory and consulting provider, today commemorates 20 years since its management team first brought discounting to Central Europe and began the retail development explosion on the continent beginning with Kmart Europe and morphing into the world class retailer Tesco Europe.
In 1992 the Czechoslovak retail landscape was a generic blend of leftover merchandise from the collapsed USSR, and whatever else which could not be sold in Western markets. A few brave foreign competitors and one hundred State owned “Prior” department stores each with up to three external warehouses were packed with four year old apparel, eight years supply of men’s belts and purple Christmas garland decorations to set the scene. A landscape that might give Sam Walton and S.S. Kresge heartburn today if not for the incredible opportunity, was turned into a discount format hybrid and today one of the leading retail chains worldwide operating under the Tesco umbrella.
Centennial Landmark - This month is 100 years after the incorporation of S.S. Kresge stores, 50 years after the opening of the first Kmart store, and the 20 years since the introduction of discount retailing in Central Europe by Joe Antonini. Managing Director of Retail Solutions Art Vartanian commented: “When first arriving in Czechoslovakia, our mandate was to transform and integrate thirteen former state owned entities into a Western retail operation.” Mr. Vartanian further commented, “We transformed a retail chain operating without credit cards, bar codes, scanning, holding massive quantities of obsolete inventory into one of the most successful retailers in Europe. Now our focus is Russia with next stop Romania and CIS”
Commenting on this anniversary, Mr. Suran, part of the original operational team and now partner of Retail Solutions stated: “Looking back two decades and seeing the results and customer satisfaction makes me tremendously proud of our accomplishments, succeeding beyond what we ever imagined. We started with the design of new customer friendly store layouts, improved product offers and visual merchandising moving later to the more difficult areas. Despite these improvements, the biggest challenge related to our people, who harbored ingrained habits and a mindset instilled in communist era retailing. At that time, shortages of even essential goods relegated customers to the role of beggars, and retail operators to the position of master. Developing, training, and motivating people was a challenge we overcame opening the door into modern supermarket, department store and hypermarket formats which changed the way the Czechs and Slovaks shopped.
Patrick Hopper, Partner of Retail Solutions and former CFO for Kmart Europe added: “Year 1992 was a major milestone for retail in Central Europe as Kmart brought Western retailing to the region through the acquisition of 13 department stores in the Czechoslovakia. From that moment, retailing has been on a path of development in these countries. Our efforts led to selling the business to Tesco in 1996, transitioning with them to successfully launch the hypermarket formula in the market and propelling the business into one of the most successful retailers in the region.”