INTERVIEW: Mircea Turdean, managing director of Farmec Cluj-Napoca, tells BR that the local cosmetics firm is planning to continue investments in innovation, while exports remain essential to its growth »page 12
ROMANIA’S PREMIER BUSINESS WEEKLY
FEBRUARY 24 - MARCH 2, 2014 / VOLUME 18, NUMBER 6
LOCAL RETAILERS ARE SET TO SAVE AROUND EUR 40 MILLION A YEAR IN CHARGES, IF PARLIAMENT PASSES A DRAFT BILL CAPPING INTERBANK FEES, IN A MOVE PROMPTED BY THE EC LAST YEAR »PAGE 10
BR presents some of the iconic brands that have put Romania on the international trade map, with a focus on those whose origins go back to the Communist period » page 6 NEWS
Booking its place
Insurer Astra was put into special administration, after the company was found to be undercapitalized and under-reserved for damage claims
The recently refurbished Chrissoveloni House in Bucharest’s old center will host a Carturesti bookstore, set to open in the first half of this year
» page 4
» page 5
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
NEWS in brief
WEEK in numbers
the average monthly online traffic of Romanian mobile phone and mobile Internet users, according to the national telecom watchdog ANCOM
BCR’s volume of RON-based mortgages jumps fourfold in 2013
IFC extends USD 20 mln trade credit line to UniCredit Tiriac Bank The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group, has announced the extension of a USD 20 million trade credit line to UniCredit Tiriac Bank, in a bid to support local exporters. The financing will allow the lender to increase its product range and enhance the financing of local corporate customers engaged in international trade. UniCredit Tiriac Bank is the fifth lender in Romania to join IFC Global Trade Finance program. This program supports trade in emerging markets by providing partial or full guarantees for individual trade transactions backed by the IFC’s triple-A rating. Last year, the bank took out a EUR 29 million loan from the IFC to finance local SMEs.
ENERGY Petrom proﬁt up 22 percent to over EUR 1 billion OMV Petrom’s profit increased to RON 4.82 billion (EUR 1.091 billion) in 2013, up 22 percent on the year before. At the same time, sales dropped 8 percent to RON 24.18 billion (EUR 5.47 billion) on account of lower sales of oil and oil product. However, electrical energy transactions increased. Sales in the R&M department represented 79 percent of total consolidated sales, gas and energy (G&E) made up 16 percent and exploration and production (E&P) 5 percent.
60 SMS Agerpress
Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), the lender controlled by Austria’s Erste Bank, said last week its balance of mortgages in RON had risen fourfold last year. The bank added that one in three borrowers took out a loan to buy a house in RON, underlining the growing interest in the local currency. BCR was the first to focus on RON lending as of October 2012. The lender has recently slashed the costs of loans granted under the First Home Program, by cutting the interest rate for customers receiving their salaries through BCR by two percentage points to 5.52 percent (DAE 6.68 percent). At the same time, the bank has lowered the interest rate for customers choosing the My Home mortgage, which comes with a three-year fixed interest rate, starting from 5.25 percent (DAE 5.55 percent).
Mugur Isarescu receives Doctor Honoris Causa title Central bank governor Mugur Isarescu was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa in a special ceremony at the University of Bucharest on February 20. Prime Minister Victor Ponta was in attendance. Petrom has scheduled EUR 1 billion of investments for this year, 85 percent of which will go into projects in exploration and production. 2012 saw OMV Petrom invest EUR 1.2 billion.
Transelectrica proﬁt quadrupled last year Transelectrica’s net profit rose to RON 162.3 million (EUR36.2 million) in 2013, from RON 36.5 million in the previous year, said officials from the state-owned firm. The power grid operator also reported that its revenue decreased by 10.8 percent to RON 1.46 billion (EUR 558.32 million), from RON 2.76 billion in 2012. The biggest share of revenue, RON 1.15 billion, comes from transport, the company’s main activity. This activity brought in RON 1.08 billion in 2012. Transelectrica underlined that the financial details were preliminary and not yet updated to international reporting standards. The electric company registered a net profit of RON 34.48 million in 2012, and had debts of RON 2.51 billion at the end of the year. The government transferred Transelectrica and Transgaz from the Ministry of Finance to the General Secretariat (GSG) at the end of last week.
airport with downtown, writes businessmagazin.ro. The project will be included in the budget for 2014-2020; however the mayor did not provide details on how it will be financed. The subway line will start at the Northern Train Station, and run via the Eastern Station, terminating at Timisoara International Airport.
EBRD loan to complement EU funds for clean water in Arges The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has granted an EUR 11.8 million loan to modernize and upgrade water and wastewater services in Arges county, joining forces with the EU Cohesion Fund. The EBRD is providing the loan to Apa Canal 2000, co-financing a regional investment program for water supply and wastewater facilities and networks under EU Cohesion Fund financing for Romania. The EBRD loan will be used to finance infrastructure for drinking water treatment and distribution as well as wastewater collection and treatment, for the towns of Costesti, Pitesti, Stefanesti and Topoloveni and surrounding areas in central Arges County.
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT Dr. Oetker to get new local Timisoara to develop subway network Timisoara will become the second Romanian city to have a subway system. Nicolae Robu, Timisoara’s mayor, said that his city’s first subway line would run for 8 kilometers and connect the
factory Dr. Oetker, the biggest food additive producer on the local market for the past 15 years, will build a new production plant in Valea Iasului, Arges County, after buying a 14-ha land plot near its current production unit.
are sent by the average user, who also talks for 202 on-net minutes and 30 offnet minutes, according to ANCOM
The firm paid EUR 1.8 million for the field, which is near the Valea Iasului city hall. The total investment in the new site could reach EUR 15 million, according Nicolae Barbu, the mayor of Valea Iasului. The factory employs 350 people and the additive producer is the biggest taxpayer in the area, as well as one of the 20 biggest companies in the county. The new factory would double the current production yield and could create 200 jobs. According to Ministry of Finance data, Dr. Oetker recorded a turnover of RON 245 million in 2012, up 12 percent on the year before, with a profit of RON 21.26 million.
EBRD grants EUR 5 mln loan to Grupo Industrial Roquest for greenﬁeld plant The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has granted a EUR 5 million loan to Spain’s Group Industrial Roquest, which will be used to co-finance the construction of a new greenfield plant near Ploiesti, bank officials have announced. The company makes hydraulic equipment in four plants in Spain. Construction of the new unit should start in April, with production set to begin next year. Locally, the company will make larger diameter cylinders, which are mainly used in agriculture and construction machinery. Roquest said the new plant was designed to meet rising demand for its products and that Romania was selected because of its “competitive advantages”. The loan is provided under the EUR 400 million Local Enterprise Facility, which targets companies in the Balkans, and southern and eastern Mediterranean region. It provides a range of financial products, including equity and debt financing for companies. The loan included EUR 40,000 in technical cooperation funds, to support the implementation of the investment.
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
4 NEWS INSURANCE
WEEK AHEAD February 25 Business Clinics – Customer Centric Approach Impact Hub invites you to join them in a process that will enable you to power up your customer-centric approach. Vlad Craioveanu and Alexandra Pode (Impact Hub co-founders) will be your hosts for the event, which carries a RON 50 entrance charge for non-members. 09.30 to 11.30. Fiscal calendar: deadline for submitting forms 100 (declaration of payment obligations to the state budget) and 112 (social security contributions).
Astra goes into special administration Astra, the biggest local insurer by gross written premiums, was put into special administration last week by the Financial Supervision Authority (FSA), which claimed the firm was undercapitalized and had failed to maintain a damage reserve.
February 27 Martisor Social Mixer The British-Romanian Chamber of Commerce invites you to its Martisor Social Mixer. BRCC’s executive chairman, Raymond Breden, will be the host for the evening and participants will have the opportunity to find out the latest details on BRCC projects from CEO, Richard Reese. Attendance should be confirmed by February 25 by email to email@example.com. K+K Elisabeta Hotel (Slanic Street 26, District 3), 18.30
February 28 Business Breakfast with IMF Resident Representative Guillermo Tolosa AmCham Romania is pleased to invite members to a business breakfast meeting with IMF resident representative in Romania & Bulgaria, Guillermo Tolosa. This will be Tolosa’s first meeting with AmCham members since his appointment in June 2013. InterContinental Hotel, Rapsodia meeting room, 09.00-11.00 Fiscal calendar: deadline for submitting form 400 (informative declaration – revenues obtained in Romania by foreign citizens).
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Businessman Dan Adamescu, who controls Astra, slammed the FSA’s decision
The FSA has appointed KPMG Advisory as special administrator and suspended the company’s management. The professional services firm is tasked with increasing Astra’s share capital to meet mandatory solvency and liquidity ratios. In addition, the administrator will go through all claims and assess their real value. Dan Adamescu, the Romanian millionaire who controls Astra, called the FSA’s decision a "mafia style hit", adding that the company would seek to have it overturned in court. Adamescu’s net worth is EUR 950 million, putting him second in the Forbes rich list. He has invested in various sectors, including media and real estate. "They are saying we are under-reserved and should bring in more capital. We proposed a share capital increase of RON 140 million (EUR 31 million), but we did not receive any answer (...). I, personally, and Astra's management, are shocked. It is incredible and, if you check, nowhere in the world has it happened that a regulatory body does not respect its own norms," said Adamescu, quoted by Mediafax newswire. He added that the heads of the FSA “have no clue” about the insurance market. Adamescu said that “this terror” started last autumn, when Astra bought Axa Romania, the loss-making subsidiary of
French insurer Axa. Following the takeover, Astra’s share capital would have increased by EUR 35 million. “The FSA has not yet approved the acquisition contract for Axa. This takeover would have fixed all Astra’s issues, but it was not desired,” said Adamescu, quoted by Agerpres newswire. He added that the policy holders were protected. “The FSA has an insurance fund. If it is not enough, all players have to cover these sums, and in the end the state pays. Those insured are at no risk,” said Adamescu. Astra’s gross written premiums amounted to over RON 1 billion (EUR 220 million) in 2012, while its portfolio of clients exceeds 4 million, according to Mediafax newswire.
Astra grants EUR 24 million of intra-group loans According to Dan Radu Rusanu, FSA president, Astra has granted intragroup loans worth RON 110 million (EUR 24 million) in the last three years, out of which RON 102 million (EUR 23 million) was funneled towards Medien Holding, which includes broadsheet newspaper Romania Libera. Rusanu said the insurer needs to be audited by a highly reputed specialist, as the company had been inspected by a flat-based auditor. He added that the
FSA will try to find out the beneficiaries of the intra-group loans. According to Rusanu, the insurer has “barely” been monitored in the last five years, with the last audit being concluded in April 2013, days before the FSA got a new management board. “Daniel Tudor (e.n former president of the Insurance Supervision Authority) was the one who protected Astra, and he will have to give a lot of answers,” said Rusanu. However, Tudor said that during his six-month tenure as president of the CSA, Astra had gone through a thorough inspection, which had lasted five months. The watchdog found irregularities and proposed to Astra a plan to fix them by December 2013. A special administration procedure could have been enforced if the insurer had failed to solve the problems. Tudor said that Rusanu had been tasked with starting investigations on the market, following this spring’s establishment of the FSA, which oversees the insurance, stock exchange and private pensions markets. Tudor added that Astra had been checked twice in less than one year, when it was being monitored to ensure it fixed the issues identified by the CSA. The National Association of Insurance Reassurance Companies in Romania (UNSAR) said in a statement that the local insurance market was a “solid industry” and that “temporary slippages” from industry standards were exceptions. The moves involving Astra come less than one month after the FSA asked for additional information about the solvency and liquidity ratios at Carpatica Asig, an insurer controlled by Romanian millionaire Ilie Carabulea. The body also asked for a reevaluation of all Carpatica’s reassurance contracts. The inspection was announced after Carabulea was taken into temporary custody, following a request by the anticorruption department (DNA). The FSA is grappling with a scandal of its own, regarding excessive pay for its staff. President Traian Basescu asked Parliament last week to replace the authority’s management, calling it “a cesspool where all those with political connections, who are incompetent and unprepared for this work, have found a parking space.” ∫ Ovidiu Posirca
www.business-review.eu Business Review | March 3 - 9, 2014
Carturesti bookstore to open in historic Old Town house T
Photo: Simona Fodor/Ovidiu Posirca
he revamped Chrissoveloni House in Bucharest’s Old Town will host a Carturesti bookstore which is scheduled for opening in the first half of this year, Valentin Salageanu, project manager, told BR. Chrissoveloni House, which was home to a famous bank during the inter-war period, is presently undergoing EUR 1.2 million of restoration works after the heir of the former owner regained the property, which had been confiscated by communists. It will now be used to host a Carturesti bookstore covering some 840 sqm, but Salageanu says the location will feature additional facilities such a bistro on the second floor. “The investment in the library amounts to an estimated EUR 400,000 to EUR 450,000, not including the stock, which will require a similar amount. The property is being renovated by the owner and will require around EUR 1.2 million,” said the project manager. The bookstore chain had considered several locations in the area in which to open a new store, but finally decided
Booking its place: Carturesti will open a branch in the Old Town
on Chrissoveloni House. “There were various offers in the Old Town, but this particular property is by far the most beautiful and this motivated us. Also, there was the fact that the owner understood the potential of opening a Car-
ABC Data enters local market, aims for top five
olish IT&C distributor ABC Data, which has operations in eight countries in the region, has announced its direct entrance on the Romanian market. This is the second time ABC Data has come to Romania. The first time, it was present via local distributor Scop Computers, in which it owned the major share package. However, in 2012, Scop Computers was involved in major fraud allegations. “We are no longer involved and do not have shares in this company anymore,” said Norbert Biedrzycki, CEO and president of the administration board of ABC Data. At the moment, the company is focusing on developing projects in markets with high potential, such as Romania and Germany. It aims to be one of the top 15 local distributors in Romania by the end of 2014, and among the top five vendors within three years’ time. In 2014, the firm expects to have a local market share of 2-5 percent. “In Romania, we have a financial department, (...) a product management department (...) and also a front office department,” Alexandru Gheorghiu, commercial director ABC Data Romania, told BR. He also said all prices are listed
in RON. “The exchange rate is EUR-Zloty, Zloty-RON, which is usually advantageous because it is not reliant on the market volatility,” he added. ABC Data estimates the local distribution market will hit the EUR 800 million mark this year. The company is currently in talks with the largest IT producers in Romania. There are already 200 vendors onboard and more are expected to join. “We are backed by vendors who are willing to come with us on the Romanian market,” said Biedrzycki. ABC Data will be also promoting locally its own tablet brand Colorovo. Under this brand, the company produces PC cases and office accessories. Smartphones too are in development, according to Gheorghiu. The company will also be pushing a Russian tablet brand on the local market called teXet. “Two of the models are assembled in the Foxxcon plant in the Czech Republic. They are not yet being sold on the Romanian market, but we will be integrating them on the FMCG market,” said Gheorghiu. ∫ Otilia Haraga
turesti bookstore there,” he added. The Carturesti chain of bookstore is controlled by local entrepreneurs Nicoleta Dumitru and Serban Radu. It has grown to a chain of 16 stores, not including the Chrissoveloni location. Three
locations were opened last year, two in Bucharest, Carturesti Baneasa and Carturesti Floreasca, and one in Ploiesti, in the grounds of the AFI Palace Ploiesti shopping mall. In the past, Carturesti has also operated locations outside the country. Between 2009 and 2011, it showcased a book exhibition in the headquarters of the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR) in New York. The space was designed by architect Serban Sturdza. Prospective buyers could only shop for books online because no commercial activities were allowed in the grounds of the ICR headquarters. The building now known as Chrissoveloni House was built in 1860 and was bought by Greek banker Nicolas Chrissoveloni in the early 1900s. It was confiscated by the communists in the late 1940s. Five years ago, Jean Chrissoveloni, the descendant of Nicolas Chrissoveloni, recovered the building and began reconstruction works in 2010. ∫ Simona Bazavan
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
Made in Romania now and then The “Made in Romania” label represents the national fight against globalization, using its own weapons, says author Simon Anholt in his book Brand New Justice: The Upside of Global Branding. BR puts the spotlight on some of the iconic Romanian brands that are proudly promoted worldwide, with four stories whose “once upon a time” dates from the Communist period. ∫ OANA VASILIU Farmec cosmetics - 1889 The Farmec story starts in 1889, when the first cosmetics laboratory opened in Hungary, in the capital of Budapest. Some 54 years later another laboratory was established in Cluj-Napoca, transforming Farmec into the largest local manufacturer of cosmetics in Romania and one of the most enduring and powerful nationwide. “Gerovital was the first anti-aging product in the world, and has become one of the most recognized brands at national and international level. It remains brand leader in the skincare segment. Also, Doina is one of the most popular and loved Romanian brands, the longest-running Farmec brand. It has retained its original recipe for almost 50 years, and the success of the product is due to the trust that it has earned from the consumer, a very good price-quality ratio and its versatility of usage – cleansing, hydration and enrichment with vitamins and protection” commented Ioana Borza, marketing manager at Farmec. In 2013 Farmec had a turnover of RON 138 million, 14 percent higher than Cosmetic changes: Farmec’s business grew by 14 percent last year to RON 138 million, with the company announcing its inin 2012, when it reported RON 121 mil- tention to increase the share of exports lion. The company also brought new products on the market last year, the Farmec Natural brand and a new product line called Gerovital H3 Prof. Dr. Ana Aslan, as a result of research and development at the company’s laboratories. Cleansing products Nufarul and Triumf also both have new formula and packaging. The company’s products can be bought in over 30 countries, of which the main markets are Japan, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Iraq, Kuwait, Greece and Canada.
Dero washing powder - 1966
Attractive market: Farmec’s development has been determined by portfolio expansion in the area of cosmetics and domestic products
Dero entered the lives of Romanian housewives in 1966, a product of the washing powder factory in Ploiesti, Prahova, its name an abbreviation of Romania’s Detergents. Over the years, the brand has be-
Cleaning up: Dero was the first brand in Romania to launch a 2in1 product
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
come synonymous with the product, and today Romanians still use the brand name when referring, generically, to any detergent. In 1995, the Dero brand was acquired by Unilever, since when it has undergone a series of innovations. In 1998, Dero was the first brand in the economy segment to launch an automatic washing powder version, and two years later it became the first brand in Romania to launch a “2in1” product (detergent and softener). “Currently, Dero is the brand leader for volume in the washing powder category. Moreover, it is a brand that knew how to reinvent itself and to evolve with the times, and testimony to this is the brand’s 25- to 35-year-old consumers, who are representative of our client profile,” said Iulia Floricica, senior brand building manager for laundry & conditioners at Unilever.
Dacia cars - 1966 1966 was also the year when Romania decided to acquire a license for car manufacturing, and Renault was the winning brand, bringing Romanians their first Dacia, the 1100 model. According to the chapter on Dacia in Visual Brands, a book by Rene Luchinger, Dacia had six major facelifts between 1966 to 2005, when a 100 percent Romanian concept was developed, Dacia Nova. In terms of rebranding, 2008 was the latest year of major improvements, when the Sandero model and the new logo were launched. “We believe that the local customer takes pride in using a product manufactured in Romania. This explains the fact that Romania is the country where Dacia has held the largest share of the world market in 2013: 31.6 percent of new vehicle sales in Romania were
Long journey: Dacia cars had six major facelifts between 1966 and 2005
Dacia models,” Dacia officials told Business Review. In 2013, local sales rose by 12.4 percent to 24,890 units, on a market that posted the poorest performance since 2000. The best sold model was the Dacia Logan Sedan, followed by the supermini model Sandero and the Duster SUV. The carmaker said its local sales had risen in volume for the first time since 2007 and its market share climbed to 31
percent, the biggest globally. In 2013, the top 10 foreign markets on which Dacia posted growth were: France, Germany, Algeria, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Belgium, the UK and Poland.
Pegas bicycles - 1972 The story of Pegas bicycles dates back to 1972, when the first Pegas for adults was manufactured. Almost 40 years later, the brand is getting a facelift thanks to
Andrei Botescu and his team, who have managed to recreate the prototype of the Romanian bike, starting from registering the brand at the State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM), as the patent had expired. “When I decided to take over the brand, I knew that I could implement everything I had learned in college in Pegas. We are talking about a national symbol, an eco-trend industry in full growth, the need for identity, the strength of childhood memories and especially the challenge of taking over a brand and a story at a time when we had all fallen into a national depression brought about by the global recession,” said Botescu, owner of Pegas. In the firm’s first year on the market, it invented a Facebook application for bike reservations as demand was much higher than its sales expectations. In 2012, it sold 500 Pegas bikes, the number doubled in 2013, and the company is hoping to increase it by half again in 2014. The average price of a bike is RON 1,200, competitive for specialized bike stores, but high in comparison with hypermarket prices. When it comes to expansion, Botescu wants to develop a national distribution, but also to “attack” other international markets, and plans to use a guerilla marketing strategy to present its bikes at the biggest European bike fair, Eurobike. In next week’s issue of BR, we present the campaigns and individuals that have gone to great lengths to promote Romania’s image abroad, especially in the arts, culture and creative sectors.
The wheel deal: the factory in Zarnesti, Brasov, was closed and the production line decommissioned years ago
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
Local firms ‘need to step up innovation’ Innovation by Romanian companies declined over 2010-2012 compared to the previous two years, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS). Furthermore, the number of companies that did not innovate at all grew by more than 10 percent over the same period. However, a few players with Romanian pedigree distinguished themselves on the innovation battlefield last year. ∫ OTILIA HARAGA During the 2014-2020 EU financial period, Romania will receive EUR 22 billion in structural and cohesion funds. These will be divided in the following way: for transport infrastructure EUR 5.7 billion, for the environment EUR 3 billion, for community urban development EUR 2.8 billion, for county roads and ring roads EUR 1.1 billion, to address youth unemployment and joblessness EUR 1 billion, for professional development in education EUR 1 billion, for social assistance projects EUR 1 billion, for SMEs and technological parks EUR 800 million, for research EUR 700 million, for IT EUR 550 million, for healthcare infrastructure EUR 500 million, for the development of local administration EUR 500 million, for the restoration of historical, cultural and tourist sites EUR 450 million, for education infrastructure EUR 350 million, for the cadastre EUR 300 million, for energy efficiency EUR 270 million, and for the programs of the National Agency for Labor Occupancy EUR 250 million. Only four out of ten large companies and two out of ten SMEs implemented a new or improved product, process, management or marketing method over 2010-2012. “The preliminary results of the survey on innovation show that between 2010 and 2012, the proportion of companies that introduced or implemented significantly new or improved products, processes, management or marketing methods was 20.7 percent, representing a 10.1 percentage point decline compared to 2008-2010. Out of these, 14.4 percent were companies that only implemented new management and marketing methods while 1.9 percent introduced or implemented only new or significantly improved products or processes. About 4.4 percent of companies introduced both new products/processes as well as new or improved management/marketing methods,” said the survey. Firms with more than 250 employees were more innovative than SMEs whose teams number between 10 and 249 people. Some 40.1 percent of large companies were innovative, representing a 16.3 percentage point drop compared to the previous two years, against only 19.8 percent of SMEs, corresponding to a 9.9 percentage point decline. Both industry and services saw sharp drops in innovation. The indicator fell from 30.1 percent over 20082010 to 22.4 percent over 2010-2012. In services, the fall was even steeper, from
The Titu testing center is one of RTR’s largest centers outside France
31.7 percent to 18.8 percent. Sometimes, the obstacle may come from the authorities. In a Hotnews.ro piece posted last year, Sorin Buse, director of Renault Technologie Roumanie (RTR), said that, while collaboration with the Romanian authorities was generally positive, the company had to abandon plans to take all its 2,000 employees to its Titu center due to the infrastructure, which the authorities “promised they would improve, but didn’t.” “There was at some point a project via which the engineering department should have been relocated. These talks were held in 2006-2007 when a new agreement was signed with the government, conditioned on infrastructure allowing the efficient transportation of several thousand people there,” said the company official for Hotnews.ro. Since its official inauguration in 2007, RTR has become Renault’s largest engineering center outside France, with almost 2,300 current employees and three locations: Bucharest (automotive engineering and design offices), Titu (testing center) and Mioveni (technical support to the Dacia plant). In 2013, two major projects were finished by RTR teams, completing the full regeneration of the M0 range: the Logan MCV (the new Logan Estate) and the new Dacia Duster. The new Logan Estate was mainly developed and industrialized by Romanian teams. In total, 83 percent of its specific parts were developed by RTR engineers. This was the first project that RTR had managed from as early as the choice of the final design. Phase two of the Dacia Duster was also run by RTR teams, from an even earlier stage. There are obstacles to innovation even at global level. An A.T. Kearney
survey found that while IT innovation is growing in importance, investment is dropping. This is very important, since IT can be an enabler of innovation across all verticals. So, while 90 percent of CIOs say that technology-driven business innovation is crucial to achieving competitive advantage and understand that the rewards of IT innovation can be impressive, on average just 12 percent of IT budgets are earmarked for innovation. One example of a Romanian company with a main focus on innovation is MB Telecom, a producer of high-tech security equipment, with around half of its 130 people working directly or indirectly in R&D. The company has announced that it is looking to expand its production capacity in Switzerland, as it is venturing onto international markets to sell sophisticated technology. Mircea Tudor, president of MB Telecom, previously told BR the new plant will require an investment of CHF 6 million (EUR 5 million) and will help double the production of a new airplane scanner. Its bet on innovation seems to have paid off. In 2009, MB Telecom won the grand prize at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva for a highperformance cargo screening system called Roboscan 1MC. Last year, the company won the grand prize again in Geneva for a new aircraft screening system called Roboscan 2M Aeria. Another player with local pedigree is digital commerce solutions firm Avangate, sold last year by Gecad Group to Francisco Partners. In 2013, Avangate announced its SkyCommerce Summer ‘13 release, as part of its customer-centric commerce solution. The company quotes a recent Constellation
survey which found that the average organization maintains 33 separate systems to support the end-to-end delivery of an order. The Summer ‘13 release claims to solve companies’ problem of fragmented commerce systems that make it hard to keep up with customer demand. In 2013, Avangate was recognized for major achievements in this area through various awards such as Red Herring Global 100, Gartner’s Cool Vendor in e-commerce, and CODiE Awards for Best eCommerce and Billing platform. Bitdefender, the already wellknown Romanian security solutions company whose technologies are used by approximately 500 million individual users and companies, was also recently awarded by German independent institute AV-TEST in the Best Protection 2013 and Best Performance 2013 categories. The company continually invests in research, functional model designing, functional model testing and prototyping in order to develop top mobile security technology and acquire top ratings in testing sessions. Last year, Bitdefender invested into B-Have Technology for mobile devices, which optimizes the emulation of third-party software applications for mobile devices. The approximate project budget was EUR 1.6 million, of which Bitdefender’s private contribution was EUR 900,000. However, it does not always take an army of employees or huge investments to achieve innovation. History offers numerous examples of entrepreneurs who made it big with a business that started from their garage. One local example of a successful local startup is uberVU, a social media marketing platform set up by three Romanians, which was taken over by Canadian company HootSuite in a transaction evaluated by TechCrunch at EUR 15-20 million. uberVU was founded in 2008 in Bucharest by Romanians Dan Ciotu (COO and co-founder), Vladimir Oane (CPO and co-founder) and Dragos Ilinca (VP marketing and co-founder). With a headcount of 42, in 2013 the firm aimed to establish itself as one of the top social analytics tools on the US market, focused on distilling large amounts of data in real time to a few key insights, said company representatives. * All companies mentioned in the article are nominees for the Business Review Awards Gala firstname.lastname@example.org
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
CEO CORNER Jan Stefan Scheld General Manager of Boehringer Ingelheim
Romania: Love it, change it or leave it How do you like Romania? I must have answered this question more than 300 times in the past three years. I really like my host country. Why? Not because it is a “cheap country” – I actually disagree both with the positioning, which does not reflect a sustainable value proposition for the future, and with the “cheapness” itself. Good quality has its price everywhere – and may even be more expensive here than in Germany. But what I like in Romania are many of the characteristics of the people – and here I see the actual value for Romania's future. The fact that I have been asked so often about my opinion on Romania reflects the genuine empathy and curiosity that I experience in
daily life. Together with the passion and creativity, as well as the many really smart and educated people that I have met here in our business life, this is the economic potential for the future. Yes, business people in Bucharest are privileged to collaborate with the intellectual elite of the country. This privilege comes with an opportunity and an obligation – therefore we as business leaders need to contribute to the country’s development. How can we contribute? Well, a lot of the things that need to be done are evident. Nearly everybody here knows what needs to be done. Some just decide not to do what would be the right thing. I personally wish we had more foresight and long-term
planning here. But of course that’s difficult when everything is considered an emergency and when emergency ordinances replace proper legislation. “I urgently have to buy cigarettes now. Therefore I’ll stop my car right here on the road.” The traffic jam is imminent... Because people are used to these traffic jams that are caused by individual short-term prioritization, the creativity is amazing here. That’s why Romania is said to be so unpredictable. Still, it works reasonably well. One of my former bosses told me, "You always have three options: love it, change it or leave it". I believe we should focus on options one and two. And we can start ourselves.
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
Romania aims to tame interbank fees The government has unveiled plans to cap interchange fees, in response to a wider proposal by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, which could save retailers across Romania up to EUR 40 million in annual charges. However, it remains uncertain if retailers will lower prices following the move. ∫ OVIDIU POSIRCA Romania ranks fifth in Europe for interchange fees on card transactions, according to EC data. The Competition Council says local fees in the Visa and MasterCard system stand at 1 and 1.2 percent, respectively, whilst in other EU member states such as France and the UK, charges do not exceed 0.8 percent for debit cards with chips. The government aims to cap multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) at 0.2 percent for debit cards and 0.3 percent for credit cards, which are similar to the levels proposed by the EC last year. Under EU regulations, the limitation would apply in the first two years for cross-border transactions and should then be applied at a national level as well. MIFs are fees charged by a cardholder’s bank to a merchant’s bank for each transaction carried out at a merchant outlet with a payment card. The fee represents a large part of the merchant service charge (MSC), the sum that is paid by a merchant to its bank for accepting card payments. “We expect the consumer to benefit from the reduction of one of the MSC components,” Alin Iacob, president of the Association of Financial Services Users (AURSF), told BR. He says that retailers have covered the merchant’s bank fees so far, but the growing number of card transactions will see this fee included in the cost of products. Data provided by the central bank show that point-of-sale (POS) transactions with cards issued in Romania rose by 18.3 percent year-on-year to 136 million in 2013. Meanwhile, the value of POS transactions gained 15 percent to EUR 4.6 billion. According to Flavia Matei, senior
Alin Iacob president AURSF
consultant at Ensight Management Consulting, Romania comes last in the EU for e-commerce usage. Around 5 percent of Romanians use e-commerce for domestic acquisitions, according to EC data, while only 1 percent use it in cross-border transactions. The country comes second from bottom, ahead only of Bulgaria, for the value of per capita debit and credit card transactions. Cash withdrawals from ATMs reached EUR 1,391 per head last year, while POS transactions amounted to EUR 262 per head. The draft bill regulating the fees will be debated in Parliament. Initially, the government aimed to pass it through a government ordinance but delayed the decision one week ago. Prime Minister Victor Ponta hinted that the caps could be changed following discussions with the banking system in Parliament. The AURSF is calling for the introduction of guarantees in the draft bill that will see consumers benefit from
“Despite the major progress, Romania still needs large investments in payment infrastructure, considering that electronic transactions account for around 5 percent of all transactions,” Cosmin Vladimirescu, MasterCard general manager for Romania and Moldova
Flavia Matei, senior consultant, Ensight Management Consulting
Local POS transactions on cards issued in Romania 2012 2013
135.9 million 161.4 million
Source: BNR the lower fees. The association has proposed that retailers be encouraged to reduce prices following the move, and that banks be discouraged from hiking card usage costs for consumers, for instance by increasing issue fees or annual administration costs. The war on fees is part of the government package aimed at curbing tax evasion by limiting the scope of cash transactions. Another proposal will see cash transactions between individuals limited to RON 10,000 (EUR 2,200). In addition, transactions between companies or between companies and individuals will be capped at RON 2,000 (EUR 444) and RON 5,000 (EUR 1,100) per supplier, respectively.
Banks face fees conundrum Although the government says the lower fees would woo more Romanians into making card payments at merchants, which in turn would mean more business for banks, players in the payments technology business warn that
Cosmin Vladimirescu, general manager Romania and Moldova, MasterCard
banks’ losses would reduce new investments in technology. “Despite the major progress, Romania still needs large investments in payment infrastructure, considering that electronic transactions account for around 5 percent of all transactions,” Cosmin Vladimirescu, MasterCard general manager for Romania and Moldova, told BR. “If these revenues decreased, our concern is that banks would reduce their investment pace in developing payment infrastructure and new technologies.” He added that judging by the experience of other countries, the savings made by retailers from the lower fees are not passed onto card users in the form of lower shelf prices. “On the contrary, banks may hike card usage costs for consumers, who, as a result, may use their cards less for payments,” warned Vladimirescu. The GM adds that MasterCard has voiced its point of view on the draft bill, including “concerns” that the “forced
Value of POS transactions on cards issued in Romania 2012 2013
EUR 4 billion EUR 4.6 billion
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
Number of POS in Romania December 2012 December 2013
Number of valid cards December 2013
Source: BNR limitation” of bank fees may impact consumers, leading to an increase of card usage costs. In a public statement earlier this month, Visa Europe said, “Interventions to regulate the market could have unintended consequences.” The company also stated its case about the danger of lower investment by banks in new technologies and the decrease of card payments by consumers. Visa Europe declined to comment on the amendments it had proposed to the draft bill. Iacob, who is a member of the EC’s Financial Services User Group (FSUG), said earlier this month in Brussels that card issuance activity is very profitable for a significant number of issuers, even in the absence of interchange fees. He cited the results of a profitability analysis by the Competition Council, which found that over 50 percent of surveyed banks recorded profitability of 49-79 percent if revenues from interchange fees were extracted from total revenues. The study also found that revenues from the issuing bank’s interchange fees account for 8-11 percent of the total income from card issuance activity.
that big players such as leading banks, credit card issuers and strong retailers have increased leverage in negotiating fees. “Smaller merchants, which are under development, as well as smaller e-commerce players, have absorbed this type of cost. As a result of the regulation, the expected result is that these cost reductions will be transmitted to consumers through market mechanisms, and will not be absorbed by merchants, thus generating an increase of demand for products and in the usage of modern payment instruments: ATMs and POSs. There is, however, the possibility that other kinds of fees may be introduced to counterbalance the limitation of interchange fees,” Matei told BR. She says that broadly, if the regulation fully impacts merchants, a maximum saving rate of 0.8 percent of the total trading value in Romania should follow, based on the average interchange rate included in the draft bill. This means retailers could save up to EUR 40 million, based on the 2011 domestic consumption figures from the Office for National Statistics (INS). Retailers across Europe are set to save around EUR 4.5 billion in yearly charges thanks to the capped interchange fees. The Association of Large Retailers in Romania declined to comment. “Merchants are paying an exorbitant price for card payments,” says Iacob of the AURSF.
Cash withdrawals from ATM per capita in 2013 EUR 1,391
Research by the Competition Council shows the average MSC paid by merchants hovers around 1.78-2.4 percent of the transaction value. “The interchange fee collected by banks in the Visa and MasterCard system significantly influences the level of the service fees collected from merchants, and, as a result, the final prices of goods and services,” said the council in a statement last year. However, the EC seems to have overlooked the negative impact that lower fees may have on SMEs, say pundits. Europe Economics, a Londonbased economics consultancy, said in a report commissioned by MasterCard last November that only large retailers will likely be able to take advantage of cross-border acquisitions and benefit from lower MSCs. The EC assumes that only those with a turnover above EUR 50 million would benefit from this measure. The report points out that SMEs may end up actually paying more as merchants’ banks will seek to compensate for the loss in fees from large retailers.
Retailers could save EUR 40 mln a year on lower fees Although the EC says the lower fees should make products and services cheaper, the experience of some EU members suggests the opposite could be the case. According to MasterCard, interchange fees fell by almost 60 percent over 2006-2010. However, issuing banks increased card holders’ commission by 50 percent. As a result, the EUR 2.75 billion saved by merchants resulted in a EUR 2.35 hike in commission for all card holders. Vladimirescu says the same trend has been seen in Hungary and Poland. Matei of Ensight Management Consulting commented that the lack of regulation limiting interbank fees means
POS transactions per capita in 2013
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
Farmec Cluj-Napoca: promotion is vital Investments in innovation, promotion and exports remain essential for growth, given that the local make-up market is showing no signs of consistent recovery, Mircea Turdean, managing director of local cosmetics firm Farmec Cluj-Napoca, told BR. Local players can take heart in one thing: in search of quality at affordable prices, consumers are rediscovering Romanian brands. SIMONA BAZAVAN
CV Mircea Turdean
Do you see consumption picking up in 2014 and how did it fare last year? Last year the cosmetics market saw a 6 percent increase in volume for personal care products compared to the previous year. However, in value, there was a drop of around 1 percentage point. This difference has led me to conclude that during crisis times, Romanian consumers, and not only them, want to spend less, but at the same time they pay attention to quality. Our growth rate surpassed that of the entire market because we meet these demands. We remain market leaders for facial care and cleansing products and number two on the hair care segment, according to Nielsen. Yes, we expect the market to slightly go up this year too. There should be a slight turnaround, but we have been expecting this for some years now and the crisis still lingers. At Farmec, we’re targeting a 10 percent increase and I think we can surpass this. We are ready for whatever the market brings.
A graduate of the Chemical Technology Faculty in Cluj-Napoca as well as the Open University Business School, he joined Farmec in 1993 as technician, later becoming researcher and department manager. Over the years he has registered over 20 patents. In 2003, Turdean was promoted to technical director. In 2010, he was appointed managing director, replacing his father, Liviu Turdean, who had held the position for more than 40 years, and one year later he was made president of the board of administration. The Turdean family is the main shareholder in Farmec Cluj-Napoca.
How do you see the economy overall going in 2014? There are signs that things are picking up, but I remember having said this before. Anyway, we are prepared for all scenarios. We are more optimistic that this year will be better than the previous one. It is an election year so it will be a better one, even if it turns out to be the case only in words. Do you think that these past few years have brought local brands back to the attention of Romanian consumers? Yes, I would like to believe that this has happened. It is a sign that the market and consumers are maturing. Our brand, Gerovital, recently won the Superbrand 2013 award for personal care products, confirming that we are one of the strongest Romanian brands. There are others like us, but there could and should be many more.
For many years, foreign brands were preferred to local brands. Is this changing? I think it is and for good reason. What is produced locally is produced by companies that have been on the market for decades, companies with tradition, and which have extraordinary marketing advantages.
We are the ones who know the local market and local consumers best. A multinational company can’t come to Romania and say that local consumers prefer a certain perfume or a certain product. This has to be researched in order to be able to adapt to the tastes of Romanian consumers.
Farmec Cluj-Napoca increased its turnover by 14 percent in 2013. Where did this growth come from? First of all innovation, the launch of new products, and I’m also talking here about research and marketing, market studies and investments in technological upgrades. Promotion is extremely, extremely important. It is not enough to develop a good product if it is not properly promoted. One must look at its competition. When multinational players are throwing millions at promoting their products, one can’t hope to be visible on the market without promotion – regardless of the product’s quality or the producer’s tradition. In our case, for example, over the coming months we plan to be present with the Gerovital brand on all the main TV channels at peak rates. This is what we understand by promotion. Last year we invested in our own distribution which is very important. Last year’s growth also stems from a good understanding of the market and good management.
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014
Given this stress on promotion, how much do you spend on marketing? We’ve been increasing our marketing budget each year. Last year we spent about 10 percent of the total turnover on marketing. This year we will allocate at least a similar share, because for us, these investments in marketing and communication are very, very important. The fact that we have this strong and famous brand is an advantage but this alone is not enough. When it comes to spending on marketing, Romanian companies are perhaps at a disadvantage compared to international players and that is because of lower budgets. We received good feedback from the media companies we work with. International brands are visible on TV all year. We can’t afford that yet so we are visible nine months a year, but during the time we are present we get good visibility. You mentioned investments in distribution. What does this include and what was the total investment last year? We’ve invested in new distribution points of our own, including in our own car fleet. The last such distribution point we opened was in Baia Mare. Now we have a network of 12 such locations. Overall, we invested EUR 600,000 last year. This includes everything – the investment in distribution, innovation, technological upgrades and so on. It also includes the 200-sqm showroom which we opened last year in Cluj-Napoca. We want to increase this in 2014. Given that we’re targeting a turnover increase of about 10 percent, we want investments to go up by at least this much. What profit did you report last year? It stood at 6 percent of the turnover, a level which we have maintained over the past year and we aim to maintain in 2014 also. How much did you export last year? We exported about 25-30 percent more in 2013. We’ve increased our presence in Eastern Europe, on neighboring markets such as Hungary, Poland, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. This required promotion efforts either with our distribution partners or by ourselves through local PR and communication firms.
138mln RON, or approximately EUR 31.2 million, the turnover reported in 2013, up 14 percent y-o-y
Last year we exported EUR 1.2 million worth of products. This is not bad – we managed to double our exports between 2009 and 2013 – but we can grow even further. Increasing exports is part of our growth directions and our strategy for the next five years and it should be part of the objectives of any local company. Right now we’re exporting to a total about 40 markets. Japan is our main export market. Farmec has been exporting to Japan for 40 years and the market now represents 22 percent of our total exports. Hungary comes close behind. We also have good exports to the Middle East – to countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Egypt – as well as the Republic of Moldova, Spain and many other countries. We only export under our brands; only in Japan do we do private label. How much of the company’s turnover is generated by private label? Unfortunately, private label production remains something of a hobby. It currently represents only 1.5 percent of the turnover, which is a similar share to other local companies. We do private label for Carrefour, Metro and Rewe. We definitely want to increase this and private label products overall are a growing trend which local producers should consider and which in some years will become an important market. Don’t you see it as a threat to your own brands? No, because we compete on different segments. There are different requirements. For example, we do private label for Carrefour and the sales of our brands in the Carrefour network were in no way affected by this. How is distribution divided between the different channels? Half of our sales are made through modern retail. We sell 14 percent through pharmacies. This has been growing in recent years and it has room to grow even more. There is a clear trend in this direction. The remaining 36 percent is sold through traditional retail stores. This has decreased but it is difficult to predict how it will go from here. Any plans to sell the Farmec business? That is certainly not in our plans. The growth we have posted over the past few years proves we have a winning strategy. And there are so many examples of local producers taken over by international players only to later disappear. One only has to look in Cluj-Napoca for such examples. There are even more countrywide and elsewhere as well. We are 450 shareholders and we all have the same interest, which is to work together so that this company continues to grow. email@example.com
CITY 13 FILM REVIEW
Nymphomaniac I & II
Ooh la Lars: Uma Thurman (left) plays a wronged wife in Danish director Lars von Trier four-hour sex-a-thon, starring newcomer Stacy Martin
DEBBIE STOWE Director: Lars von Trier Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin On at: Cinema City Cotroceni, Europa, Grand Cinema Digiplex, Hollywood Multiplex, Movieplex, Patria A surplus of sex scenes, interspersed with dry lectures on angling, knots and mathematics. Hardcore content packaged like an old-fashioned story. Sexual violence and sadomasochism analyzed politely over tea and cake. Orgies rendered banal and boring. Disney sidekick Shia LaBeouf encouraging the insertion of spoons where spoons shouldn’t go. Billy Elliot brandishing a horsewhip (not for a horse). A sex film that manages to be overwhelmingly unsexy. Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac is a sweaty, gyrating mass of contradictions. Be warned: the whole thing is also four hours long. But, as we know: it’s not the length, it’s what you do with it. So what does von Trier do with it? First, he frames the action in a curiously twee way. Avuncular old polymath Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) is out doing his shopping, when he finds a badly beaten woman in an alley. Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) declines his offer to call an ambulance, but allows this Good Samaritan to take her home, put her to bed and give her a cup of tea while she recovers, and tells him how she came to be lying in the street. It turns out that drinking tea and chatting are not Joe’s normal activities in bed. She confesses to Seligman that she’s a nymphomaniac, then regales him with tales of her sexual adventures, broken down into eight chapters based on some of his areas of study, such as classical music and religion.
It’s hard to think of another director who might have approached this material in the same way. At times, the Danish provocateur seems to be trying to bore his audience: Gainsbourg’s voiceover is often flat and monotonous, and lines such as, “My mother’s name was Catherine. My father called her Kay” are hardly riveting. But he also mines it exhaustively for humor. In an uproarious bedroom farce scene that channels The Office-style comedy of cringe, Uma Thurman plays the spurned wife of one of Joe’s many lovers, who converges on Joe’s apartment with her three young sons and yet another of Joe’s conquests. They all sit down to tea. Alongside Thurman, the all-star cast includes Christian Slater as Joe’s kindly father, Connie Nielsen as her cold mother and Willem Dafoe as an underworld enforcer. Jamie Bell gives a brief but electrifying performance as a sadist to whom Joe turns for flogging when her sex life is flagging – watching Billy Elliot will never be the same again. Despite a very strange accent, LaBeouf, as Joe’s longest-term love interest Jerôme, acquits himself respectably in early scenes with young Joe, played compellingly by newcomer Stacy Martin (their first time is preceded by the comic exchange: “If I asked you to take my virginity, would that be a problem?” “No, I don't see a problem.”). However, he struggles to hold his own in later scenes with veteran actor Gainsbourg. He was either miscast or the selection of a Disney alumnus was LvT’s little joke. Ultimately, for all its star shagging, Nymphomaniac is about the pain of addiction, and is more forlorn than filthy. firstname.lastname@example.org
www.business-review.eu Business Review | February 24 - March 2, 2014¡
14 CITY / HR
WHO’S NEWS BR welcomes information for Who’s News. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity. Get in touch at email@example.com
has been sacked as head of the state lender CEC Bank, PM Victor Ponta announced last week. This is one of Ponta’s first moves since assuming his interim mandate as minister of finance. The PM said that the decision to dismiss Ghetea had been taken during Daniel Chitoiu, the former finance minister’s, mandate. No replacement had been announced by the time BR went to press last Thursday. Ghetea had been president of CEC Bank since 2007. In 1997 he was elected member of the board of administration of the Romanian Banks’ Association (ARB) and in 2000 he was elected president.
has returned to Romania to run the international branch of the Ioanid schools. From Newcastle, in the north of England, she moved to Romania in 2003 to take over the running of the International Nursery School (INS) in the French Village, which she helped grow into a full-range primary school. In 2011 Robinson left for the Middle East. She has over 30 years of experience and expertise in education with a focus on the education of under-fives. After undertaking an MA in Education Management she gained her first headship in 1994. This will be the fifth school that she has managed to date.
is the new general manager of chemical construction materials producer Sika Romania. He is replacing Ileana Nicolae, who after 12 year at the company’s helm has been appointed manager for Eastern Europe by Sika AG. Stefanescu will report directly to Nicolae. He joined the company in September 2013 as director of the dried mortars division. Stefanescu previously worked as general manager of construction materials producers Selena Romania and Euro MGA Product. He is a graduate of the Technical University of Construction in Bucharest. He holds a master’s degree in industrial management from the same institution.
has started his term as interim finance minister after the previous finance and economy ministers, Daniel Chitoiu and Andrei Gerea, officially resigned. President Traian Basescu signed decrees approving Chitoiu’s and Gerea’s resignations and the appointment of Ponta and Constantin Nita (Social Democratic Party, PSD) as interim ministers for the two positions. The situation at two more ministries – the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affaires – also controlled by the National Liberal Party (PNL), remained in limbo after the PNL and PSD failed to agree on the appointments, further deepening the crisis within the ruling Social Liberal Union (USL) coalition. The main deal breaker was the PNL’s proposal of Klaus Iohannis as vice premier, alongside minister of internal affairs.
FOUNDING EDITOR Bill Avery PUBLISHER Anca Ionita EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Simona Fodor JOURNALISTS Otilia Haraga - senior journalist, Simona Bazavan, Ovidiu Posirca, Oana Vasiliu COPY EDITOR Debbie Stowe PHOTO EDITOR: Mihai Constantineanu
ISSN No. 1453 - 729X
MARTISOR DECORATE THE CITY
LAYOUT Beatrice Gheorghiu ART DIRECTOR Alexandru Oriean
Work of heart: the “chimney sweep” Martisor amulet is believed to bring luck because his work prevented fires from starting
Receiving, giving or exchanging amulets for Martisor, the local celebration of the arrival of spring, is about the continuity of sharing our lives together, friendship and mutual appreciation. It is more than a gift; it is symbol of wishing each other ongoing luck, hope, love and prosperity. Want to get involved? Here are our recommendations for where to buy the Romanian symbol of spring. According to tradition, an amulet or good-luck charm is given on 1 March, which must be tied with a red and white string (the string is more important than the amulet itself) to bring health and good luck. The tradition spread from the countryside to the town at the turn of the century. The first to present such trinkets to their daughters and wives were gentlemen of a certain economic standing, since, back then, small objects of gold and silver were usually connected to the red and white strings. Gold and silver pendants are still among the most popular Martisor gifts. In the region of Moldova, “martisoare” are typically given to men by women EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR George Moise SALES & EVENTS DIRECTOR Oana Molodoi SALES & EVENTS Sales managers: Ana-Maria Nedelcu, Oana Albu, Raluca Comanescu Sales executives: Ana Maria Andrei MARKETING Ana-Maria Stanca, Catalina Costiuc, Iulia Mizgan PRODUCTION Dan Mitroi DISTRIBUTION Eugen Musat
while women receive flowers. Some of the most popular amulets include the “chimney sweep” (believed to bring luck because his work prevented fires from starting), the horseshoe and the clover. In Bucharest you can find “martisoare” at the following fairs: Sala Dalles (18 Nicolae Balcescu Boulevard) February 25 to March 8; The National Museum of Geology (2 Kiseleff Boulevard) February 26 to March 9; Muzeul Taranului Roman/the Romanian Peasant Museum (3 Kiseleff Boulevard) February 27 to March 2; Palatul National al Copiilor/the National Children’s Palace (8-10 Tineretului Boulevard) February 27 to March 2; Manuc Inn (62-64 Franceza Street) February 28 to March 2. firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLISHER Bloc Notes Media ADDRESS No. 10 Italiana St., 2nd floor, ap. 3 Bucharest, Romania LANDLINE Editorial: 031.040.09.32 Office: 031.040.09.31 EMAILS email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com