Posted on Saturday 10 January 2009 - 08:00:00
«You may say that I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one…»
John Lennon

What is the worth thing in global financial crisis? Nobody knows when it comes and when it’s over.Millions of different kind of analytics say, they know, what will happen the next half a year. They don’t. Like nobody did know, that oil will pay only a bit of the last summer price. Where were all those analytics then? Karl Marx said over a hundred years ago, that crisis is the second name of capitalism. It was true then, it is still the truth. The only difference is that at the beginning of the last century crisis was a local disaster, at the beginning of this century it is our common, global disaster. Some countries suffer more, some less, but nobody feels well in this economical salad.

I have a privilege to look after the situation from two places at a time. In Finland, which is my main location, crisis hasn’t made a big influence. Of course, banks loan money with more care, real estate prices are not growing etc. But, there are small things. Finnish companies even buy back businesses, they sold some years ago. Of course, with profit. It’s not a big surprise for us, because we had our own local crisis in 1993 and everybody remembers, how awful it was. It was like in US now, with the difference, that Finland is small country and nobody in the big world cares, what happens there. We survived currency devaluation, banking system collapse, bankruptcies, real estate prices collapse, huge unemployment. Now Americans have asked us for advice and also received it. However the biggest influence of crisis here in Finland fells again those, who are dealing with Russia.
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Posted on Thursday 08 January 2009 - 07:59:00
The original idea of this article was to let our readers to know more about what has happened on Russian promotional market during the year 2008. However, global financial crisis has changed even this my humble intension. Of course, we still could talk about it, but the year was so distinctive, that in the meaning of statistics it couldn’t be of any help. That’s why all statistic material of this article is from the previous, much as regular for our branch, year 2007.
Promotional market’s assortment is so huge that it is really impossible to make any analysis of every single product of it. However, in Europe like in Russia the most popular items of all times are writing instruments and wearable. We have chosen the simplest way to gather information for this job by analyzing custom’s database of import. May be it’s too modest to say “simple” in this context, because in fact, there is no any other source in Russia. All business information is closed; no numbers or figures could be received from any authority or official entity. So it is the only source at the same time. And, to say the truth, it is the most convenient source. Reader must be aware, of course, that figures of this article shouldn’t be understood as the last and only true numbers, be-cause of one specific thing in Russian economy. Customs taxes are so high, that importers have been discovering for years different “technologies” to avoid big payments. Those methods include many ways of importing goods to Russia only declared partly or even without declaring them at all. However, this little thing can’t distort the whole picture and readers must keep it just in mind. Another argument of using customs database was the fact that there is no manufacturing of such kind of production in Russia or, at least, in competitive quality and prices to similar imported goods. There are a few small companies, who try to sew t-shirts and it is even worse with writing instruments. There is only one big old plant in St. Petersburg with awfully looking pens and one modern, but very small factory in Moscow suburbs.
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Posted on Friday 09 January 2009 - 07:55:00
«The Russians are the best at making three things: cognac, ballet and tanks…»
Winston Churchill
«…And they import all the rest...»
An unknown businessman

During 75 years of the Soviet Union’s existence Russia had almost no foreign goods. Having screened off the capitalist world, the state regained entire control over the economy and production sector and on its own, to some ex-tent, provided the population with the goods made locally. Due to the lack of competition and overall technical underdevelopment of plants and factories, almost all the products, with a few exceptions, were of average or low quality. And though the official ideology attainted the Western European and especially American lifestyle in every way, all the population stood in awe with regards to jeans, boots, audio equipment and cigarettes made out of the Socialist countries. A Japanese TV-set was a major pride of a family, and a common German ballpoint pen became an object of black envy at school.
By now the situation has changed. Not dramatically though. There is still no competitive Russian production in the country. For instance, there is no hope that the car industry will reach an adequate level to rival European and American corporate groups. The Russian Lada will be bought only if there is no chance at all to buy a Toyota or a Citroen, and at first opportunity it will be substituted with a car not of domestic origin. The situation is the same with cosmetic products, clothes, household appliances. Purely Russian brands are leading only in the area of telecommunications and mobile communications, but even here foreign firms are peeking out from the backs of Russian entrepreneurs.
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Posted on Wednesday 07 January 2009 - 07:45:00
Prodir pens have been in the market of business souvenirs relatively not so long – about 20 years, but within this time they have managed to win affection of entire Europe. And Russia is not an exception. Prodir’s Moscow office was opened approximately two and a half years ago, but even well be-fore that the company’s products had been seen in catalogues of various Russian suppliers of business souvenirs. In this interview Knud Noerding, a sales manager of Prodir, tells us about the results of the representative office’s work and about the differences between the Russian and the European markets of business souvenirs.

Alexandr Levkin: The year 2008 comes to its end. How fortunate it was for Russian representative office of Prodir? Has the volume of sales increased compared to last year? Has the dealer network increased?
Knud Noerding: 2008 was a good year for Prodir Russia. We have a substantial and sustained growth in all relevant business figures. The opening of our office in Moscow certainly has proved to be the right decision. We have an excellent team, which does understand both the local market and our philosophy. We feel very proud, that today companies like Beeline, MTS, ROSNEFT, TECHNOPARK, KALEVA, SANOFI-AVENTIS, ROCHE, ALFA-LAVAL etc. have chosen Prodir as their corporate pen.
A.L.: What difficulties have you experienced in the past year and how have you overcome them?
K.N.: Of course, there were a couple of minor issues when we started. For example, just to deliver all the necessary papers for running our business in Russia was quite a challenge. But an excellent local team provided us with all the professional know-how we needed to overcome these initial small bumps on the road. Today everything works smoothly.
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