With funding from the EU, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) helped a Belarussian clothes manufacturer develop brand strategy and expand its own retail chain, increasing sales by 30%.
The company, Mark Formelle, established in 2009, designs, produces and distributes cotton garments, sleepwear, underwear and other specialty clothing such as thermal wear.
Despite rapid growth and the creation of a broad distribution system in Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, it had no clear system of communication with consumers, meaning customers did not identify the products with the trademark.
EBRD helped Mark Formelle work with a local consultant, who studied the target consumers, developed a new brand concept to match the preferences of the target audience and worked out a product promotion system in accordance with the brand. A year after the project’s completion, there was a considerable improvement in brand awareness and an increase in sales of 30%.
The next stage of cooperation involved helping Mark Formelle seek out international industry experts, who brought international best practice to the company. Igor Kresoja, a German textiles and merchandising expert with more than 20 years of senior management experience in retail in Germany, acted as its main adviser.
The experts helped Mark Formelle:
- improve production efficiency
- develop a new store concept
- change the internal structures of the distribution department, and
- create a sales support department, allowing the brand to stand out among competitors in the market.
As a result, the company’s share of its own retail sales (vs. wholesale) grew from 26 to 50%, turnover rose by 87% and exports more than doubled by the end of the project.
The consultants are now helping the company with a new, long-term business plan and product development.
The EBRD has also provided Mark Formelle with a USD 4 million loan to finance the brand’s expansion in Belarus and neighbouring markets.
In 2015, Mark Formelle director Svetlana Siparova was awarded an EBRD Women in Business Award, recognising her for ‘promoting gender diversity in a commercial company’.
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In addition to finance, the EBRD provides advice to small and medium-sized businesses. Find out more about the EBRD’s small business advisory services at: