Mr Brachu, in 2018 you travelled to Great Britain for 2 weeks - what tasks did you perform?
I visited various wholesalers with my sales colleagues from the UK. My aim was to discover the UK market, gain experience and exchange ideas - and definitely enjoy the time with my colleagues.
How did your stay benefit the company?
To get a different perspective on the same tasks. France and Great Britain are very different. Both countries have really established good ideas in their markets. For example, I found their POS (Point of Sale) very interesting while they got a good insight into how we work with specifications. It's always good to get a look from the outside.
What insights did you gain for your daily work?
Certainly ideas for working with wholesalers and processors, products, marketing, POS, organisation, sales promotions, etc.
Each country has its own experiences and sharing them within the group is a great enrichment for everyone. Although I'm sure that not everything I've taken with me will work in France, it's good to think about it.
What impressed or surprised you the most?
Our countries are only a few miles apart and yet our businesses are so different. I was very impressed by the size and specialisation of the dealers - in France we work much more closely with the painting market. Mercado, for example, has a stock of £17 million and Headlem of £21 million.
I was very impressed by how much time people took to explain their business to me. They showed me the furthest corners, such as their warehouses. The people are incredibly friendly.
Also worth mentioning are the skills of the craftsmen. I have never seen such beautiful soil in my life. (I'm sure nobody in France would be willing to pay for it!).
What did you not like at all?
I am French, so I can say yes - the food. No seriously, everything tasted really good, but I'm not used to eating so fast.
Furthermore, it was a challenge for me to talk to people who have so many accents.
But when we talk about what I didn't like, I want to answer the question what I particularly liked. By far the friendliness of the people. The skills of the floor layers, the specification of the dealers, the friendship with the UK team. And indeed the rich "English Breakfast".
What cultural differences did you notice?
Business doesn't necessarily seem to be easier but more casual - it has a lot to do with people. I remember asking the CEO of a big company why he chose UZIN as his partner. He pointed to our colleague Ian with the words "Thanks to this guy" and I love his answer.
It's similar in France, but the pressure is stronger from a feeling point of view. For example, nobody talks about the annual price increase.
Would you like to sum up by saying something else?
Continues UEP - it is a great opportunity to learn something, to exchange ideas and for me personally I can say it is an experience that has enriched me very much.
In a nutshell: It was exciting, informative and sometimes surprising to compare the business worlds. At the end of the trip I could get to know the most different - bigger and smaller - dealers (e.g. Headlam or Mercado), craftsmen and buildings. I am really impressed how specialized the English dealers are compared to France and what craftsmanship the floorers and parquet layers have.
The UK team gave me great pleasure by visiting a football match in Newcastle - an incredible stadium with 50,000 fans!
Mr Brachu, thank you very much for your frank words. We are sure that your impressions will motivate many colleagues to participate.