INTERVIEW Catalina Trupsor, CEO Color Smart: “We aim to expand our distribution system this year in Romania”
“Our focus in 2023 is to be as close as possible to the specialists and clients who need support throughout the projects. This means continuous improvement of services and delivery conditions. We notice that there is a demand for luxury finishes on the market and we aim to always offer our customers solutions that meet the most sophisticated requirements in this field. That is why we are considering bringing other international brands into the Color Smart portfolio,” Catalina Trupsor, CEO of Color Smart told The Diplomat-Bucharest.
“At the same time, we aim to expand the distribution system with dedicated showrooms in cities where we are not yet present, such as Buzau, Hunedoara, Targu-Jiu and Petrosani, Suceava-Botosani, Iasi.”
How would you describe the evolution of Color Smart in 2022?
We expected in 2022 to maintain the growth trend recorded in 2020, 2021, of over 35-40% per year. However, we managed to achieve an increase of about 25%.
2022 was a strange year, with many variables that created unexpected effects.
Having in mind the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the energy crisis the results were good. We managed to keep prices under control, and we had more than enough stocks to supply the local market like usual.
In 2022 we opened the Timisoara market with a flagship showroom. We aimed to be closer to the specialists and final customers in the western part of the country, who need support throughout the projects. Entering the Timisoara market is part of our territorial expansion strategy.
We opened during 2022 partner stores in Sibiu, Alba-Iulia, Brasov and signed a contract for the Braila-Galati area.
What challenges have you faced during 2022?
In 2022 we also experienced this economic-political uncertainty, the inflation, people’s fear of war and the energy crisis, by postponing many big projects or even cancelling them. We also had unplanned delays in developing the distribution network. People no longer made decisions to start a new business or to diversify the range of distributed products.
This year the architects and designers had fewer and smaller projects which required more attention, effort and focus to complete the contracted work.
Furthermore, concerns about the war sometimes led to temporary shortages of some products, increased prices of raw materials and a circumspect approach from foreign partners who were stricter with terms of payment.
What priorities and business strategy focus do you have in 2023?
Color Smart is growing, and we are in the process of expanding and consolidating our market position.
Our focus in 2023 is to be as close as possible to the specialists and clients who need support throughout the projects. This means continuous improvement of services and delivery conditions.
We notice that there is a demand for luxury finishes on the market and we aim to always offer our customers solutions that meet the most sophisticated requirements in this field. That is why we are considering bringing other international brands into the Color Smart portfolio.
Moreover, our sales have also increased through our own showrooms, which are made only with products marketed by us. Thus, the final consumers can observe and touch the products right on the walls of the showroom or on the exposed panels, which gives them a clear idea of how the design they plan will look like in the end. We are also considering the redevelopment of the store in Constanta and very likely the redecoration of the store in Bacau. We want to offer the same experience to our customers in all areas of the country.
At the same time, we aim to expand the distribution system with dedicated showrooms in cities where we are not yet present, such as Buzau, Hunedoara, Targu-Jiu and Petrosani, Suceava-Botosani, Iasi.
What are your most important projects for this year?
In 2023, we will focus much more on projects with application included and aim to considerably increase both their number and their share in the turnover. That’s why we promote more the wide range of services that can be purchased by customers, from materials and accessories, to consulting services or projects carried out with our teams of applicators.
We have important projects underway, but we can mention a few that are now in execution. We have residential projects – villas, in Cotroceni, Predeal and Pipera, with a value of approximately 100,000 Euro. At the same time, we are also doing the fitting out for a private clinic, about 50,000 Euro.
What are your plans regarding sustainability initiatives in 2023?
Because in Romania this trend, related to recycling and sustainability, started to be appreciated and taken into account only 2-3 years ago, we aim to continue sustained communication so that the market understands the benefits of these products and the chance that each person has to contribute in a real way to the protection of nature and the general well-being.
All paints in the Color Smart Distribution portfolio are ecological, made according to European Union standards, having the lowest emissions of toxic substances, being anti-bacterial and anti-mold. We will continue to market sustainable products and will take this into consideration when bringing new brands to our portfolio.
Which are your expectations for the Romanian market in 2023, anticipated challenges?
The real estate market is going through a period of stagnation. However, the residential segment has different developments depending on the categories: low, middle, and premium. The demand for premium products will remain high, and the events of recent years have not negatively affected this niche.
The demand for premium products in interior design has also not been affected in previous years and looks set to remain high in 2023 as well.
What are your main concerns for the foreseeable future?
The biggest challenges in 2023 are primarily the possible lack of raw materials due to disruptions in the operation of distribution chains, the accelerated increase in production and transport costs, the depreciation of the leu-euro exchange rate and energy problems – the cost of oil and gas. To which we also add the challenges related to the lack of qualified labour. These things will affect all industries regardless of their location. We will also see new patterns of customer behaviour and surprising criteria that will influence purchasing decisions.
Currently, Color Smart has its own locations in Bucharest, Constanța, Bacau and Timisoara, as well as a network of 13 distributors nationwide: Cluj, Craiova, Oradea, Arad, Sibiu, Alba-Iulia, Ramnicu Valcea, Ploiesti, Focsani, Bacau, Piatra Neamț, Brasov, Braila. The company is also present in 9 specialist warehouses in the country. Color Smart has a wide range portfolio of services that can be purchased by customers, from materials and accessories, to consulting services or to turnkey projects carried out by its teams of applicators.