Interview with Vladimír Soták Jr., Sales Manager of Železiarne Podbrezová

We present below the interview conducted by Podbrezovan, the newspaper of Železiarne Podbrezová, with Vladimír Soták, Jr., member of the Board of Directors and Sales Manager of our parent company. In the interview, Vladimír Soták, Jr. discusses the company’s performance in the first part of 2024, the challenges of the global market, and the strategies adopted to maintain a competitive edge. Additionally, the results of the recent participation in the Düsseldorf trade fair and future prospects for product sales are analyzed.

We have concluded the first quarter of 2024. How did our joint-stock company fare in terms of business performance?

– The first quarter of this year mirrored the market trends observed at the end of last year. In the realm of steel billets sales, the market remains stagnant with no signs of improvement. This is primarily due to global overcapacity and a subdued level of consumption, exerting downward pressure on prices. However, we maintain a competitive edge in this segment with our extensive product range, particularly with smaller formats of 105 and 125 millimeters, which have garnered interest in the market.

Since January, there has been a slight uptick in the sale of rolled pipes, allowing us to maximize the utilization of our production capacities. Wholesale dominates the sales structure, compensating for reduced stock levels observed at the beginning of the year. Despite the overall market inertia, our precision tube drawing plant has experienced an increase in orders, underscoring our resilience in adapting to market conditions.

Can it be concluded that this year is mirroring or evolving in a manner similar to last year?

– Sales performance in the first five months of last year was notably strong across all product categories, encompassing galvanized tubeselbowsreducers, and secondary tubular production, both in terms of volume and pricing. However, the significant downturn in consumption across Europe and globally became evident in the sixth month, leading to a decline in orders across all products.

Although there were slight upticks in the sales of rolled and precision tubes at the start of this year, the overall situation remains stagnant. It is expected to mirror the trends observed throughout 2023, with no significant changes anticipated.

Which assortment of our products is currently generating the highest level of interest?

– Indeed, the saying “the exception proves the rule” holds true in our case. The demand for our butt-welding elbows continues to soar, surpassing our current production capacity. As one of the few remaining European producers of this commodity, we’ve managed to sustain a stable market share, largely attributed to the exceptional quality of our production.

What benefits did our joint-stock company gain from your recent participation in the important trade fair in Düsseldorf?

– Contrary to our initial apprehensions based on past experiences, the turnout and interest in personal interactions from both our existing and potential clientele exceeded all expectations. This was evident from the staggering number of over three hundred registered negotiations at our booth.

Thanks to the meticulously organized logistics of our marketing department, all our sales colleagues, including those from subsidiary companies in ItalyGermanyPolandthe Czech Republic, as well as representatives from Tom-Ferr in Hungary and Transmesa in Spain, were able to efficiently conduct these negotiations.

Furthermore, apart from our European clientele, we were pleased to welcome business partners from as far as Australia, South Korea, various Arab countries, and the USA, who seized the opportunity to engage with us.

I am confident that the outcomes of these meetings will yield a positive impact on the volume of orders in the forthcoming months.

What are the prospects for the sale of our products in the near future?

Our foremost challenge lies in our involvement in global projects for cold drawn tubes used in heat exchangers. However, significant concerns stem from the economic downturn in the Eurozone, notably in Germany, as well as the European Commission’s disregard for market protection within the European Union. Additionally, the automotive industry’s stagnation poses further obstacles.

Article written by:

Železiarne Podbrezová

Železiarne Podbrezová

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