A family-owned company celebrating 25 years on the market, a leader in its segment and one always looking for consolidation and being better. AdHugger talked with Ionut Popa, CEO and Consuela Popa, Administrator of Consolight about the company’s first steps, biggest moments and decisions, turnover, investments and what is next.
What were your plans when you opened the business?
Consolight had its beginnings 25 years ago, when we were eager to develop our own company, as a young family of 2 professionals with economic background. At first, we expected consistent development on this market that was rapidly flourishing. However, never in our dreams would we have predicted that after 25 years of experience our company would have become a major player in the market with an annual turnover of over EUR 50 million and almost 300 employees in our group of companies (Consolight, Mercury Lighting, Tablomet). These figures reflect our honesty and devotion to satisfy the demands of our partners.
Consolight had its roots in commerce, like the majority of companies founded in the 90’s. Thanks to the tremendous passion of our staff, in the first few years we set up 4 electrical appliances stores, well placed in Bucharest. During a period where there was a lack of DIY chains, our stores attracted consumers, thus bringing awareness to the Consolight brand. We later decided to shift from managing our own stores towards distributing to partner retail shops throughout the entire country.
Our second big turning point was our establishment in the market as a strategic distributor for the major international electrical appliance manufacturers. We have opened branches with national coverage, for proximity towards clients, and in 2012, after years of renting out storage deposits, we had opened our own warehouse. Nowadays, we have acquired over 15.000 square meters of storage space all over Romania, founded over 12 branches and 4 workstations, jumping from 0 to over EUR 50 million turnover this year.
What were your main challenges along the way and how did you surpass them?
It is no secret that the two biggest challenges on the market were the 2 global crises, those being the financial crash from 2009-2010 and the ongoing pandemic of Covid-19, which also affects the economic activity. During both of these crises, Consolight has managed to maintain stability and even proliferate. Fortunately, we were already capitalized during the 2009-2010 financial crisis, even managing to open 4 branches during those 2 years. When compared to other sectors and companies, we encountered only a small loss in activity by 8 percent (due to financial restrictions and reduction of spending auto-imposed by client companies). However, the harsh economic conditions of the times led to the closure of some competitors in the market, which could not survive the underselling of products, resulting in their market shares being allocated to the remaining businesses.
While the pandemic crisis has affected the economy for over a year and a half, on our market we had the opportunity of increased demand in electrical products and solutions, due to boom in the residential construction sector, which led to an over 15 % increase in annual turnover for Consolight in the last 2 years.
What about the main best moments?
Reaching an annual turnover of over EUR 50 million is a big milestone for our 25th anniversary. Every new founded branch, every new global producer that we partner with, every new efficient member that joins our team, every new car in our fleet or million of euro that ads to our turnover, these are all the reasons why we keep striving to improve ourselves. We balance our financial and operational management responsibility and operational management, focusing on strategical development decisions and investments. We have treated the hardships caused by global or regional crises with the utmost of responsibility and we will continue to do so, resulting in constant yearly growth.
How is the company positioning right now on the market?
Consolight is positioned now as strategic player, on the top of electrical products & solutions traders, with tremendous & solid level of stock, complex range of products (over 60.000 articles), professional team (almost 300 employees) and one of the best financial rankings in the industry. For our next 25 years, we plan to develop Consotech division and its portfolio of smart & eco electrical solutions, as a cutting edge differentiator on the national electric products distribution market.
What do you offer differently than the competition?
Consotech division development is Consolight’s strategic approach for the following years, in order to ensure for our clients the best smart & eco electrical solutions as efficient alternative to current classic electrical products, which could be affected by energetic or ecological crises. We made strategic partnerships with niche international providers in lighting and smart solutions (smart home & smart city, photovoltaic panels, electric vehicles charging stations), with innovating products, which we would hope to be rapidly adopted by the market.
Consotech’s strategy includes a major education component for the market, in order to increase clients’ interest towards these smart solutions, by presenting real benefits in electrical efficiency, use and maintenance costs, as well as the eco sustainability for such products.
Consolight’s power and differentiation comes from a quadrature of elements, aligning to offer maximal benefits to our clients:
- Over 6 million euro for consolidating stocks of products, in order to prevent major challenges on the market;
- Over 60.000 products in our portfolio, to offer a complete range to resellers and the professionals on the market, including hi-tech smart & eco solutions of Consotech division;
- Human resource, a professional team of sales engineers and consultants;
- Financial power that recommends us as solid partner in multimillion euro projects. Balancing sales opportunities with prospects’ and clients’ solvency represent our way of treating the financial challenges on the market with maximum responsibility.
What are the main changes you made during the years and why?
As previously mentioned, Consolight’s development was a continuous and healthy process. An important concern was to protect the company from major changes, with main focus for sustainable growth. We have always implemented a responsible financial and operational management, avoiding major changes, overpassing the international crisis with stability and growing step by step: increasing year by year the number of branches and our turnover.
How did you choose the name of the company and what does it represent?
Consolight represents a blend of Consuela (birthname of Consolight owner) with lighting, the main feature of our activity domain. For 25 years we enlightened businesses, houses, lives, people, ideas.
How were the last two years for the company?
The accelerated development of the construction domain, especially in residential and logistic areas, also helped the local market of electrical and automatization systems to surpass the European level of growth. We believe that this phase will continue for the next decade. The sector of low and medium voltage products had an ascendent trend in the first 6 months of 2021, Consolight turnover achieving an increase of 20 percent in sales during this period.
Regarding lighting systems, the pandemic context determined an increase of 37 percent in sales on this segment in 2020, compared with 2019. This evolution continued also in the first half of 2021, with an increase of over 25 percent in sales, compared to the same period in 2020, and the full year prognosis indicates a 30 percent increase on this lighting division. Another effect of the pandemic period is the positive impact on real estate market, with an estimated robust evolution by the end of this year.
The largest projects of Consolight come from industrial and office areas, safe & secure lighting and also from public lighting. Amongst our referral project where we delivered products and solutions, we could mention: public lighting in Mogoșoaia, Emergency County Hospital in Sibiu, Altex Clariant, Multico, Honeywell Lugoj, Sports Center Floreasca, Kastamonu și Kaufland. We had delivered also low and medium voltage systems in buildings such as: Atenor Expo, Emag 2, Dacia One, Opera Residence, Lidl Cernica, ONE Cotroceni, Shopping Park Timișoara, Moșnița Nouă swimming pool, Logistic hub of Profi, Novopolis Complex Constanța, AROBS Cluj, Alexandria stadium, CTPark, Karcher Romania și Jumbo warehouse.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
Our medium and long-term objective is the consolidation of Consolight as a leader on the market of electric products and systems distribution, through doubling the current turnover to the 100 million euro in the next 5 years. We want to become the first choice on the market for our partners and clients, by offering them a unique combination of financial stability, large product portfolio, consistent stocks, as well as cutting edge smart & eco electrical solutions through Consotech.
For this, we will continue the current investment plan of almost EUR 3 million euro, for acquisition, set up and modernization of our logistic hubs in Bucharest and Constanta, reaching thus over 15.000 sqm of warehouse spaces. This investment plan also includes the training for our human capital.
Another major objective is the integration of digital and offline communication with our clients. Since 2021 we have been investing in digitalization and developed our B2B MyConsoSpace online platform, which already led to sales increase, compared to last year. This is a truly effective digital space for every client, helping to find out stocks in real time, place orders, reserve products, see invoices and all purchase history. In 2022 we will also launch the B2C platform, useful especially for Consotech’s division of clients.