Finance

CFO Profile: Yevgeny Pogorelov of Samson LTD.

October 1, 2014

Mr. Yevgeny Pogorelov

Company: Samson LTD. 
Role: Chief Financial Officer

Key facts

Private company
Russia
Industry: Office supplies, logistics
Turnover: > € 250,000,000
Employees: 2,500

Yevgeny Pogorelov became CFO of Samson Ltd. 13 years ago. Since then his company has experienced substantial growth. This year growth will continue, he says, but may be not as fast as in previous years. Beyond the general economic downturn in Russia, the sanctions against Russia are the primary reason for cost-cutting measures at Pogorelov’s company. 

Image: © Nationale Beeldbank

Can you tell us something about your company?
Samson Ltd. is one of the leading providers of office and school products in Russia. We have over 2,500 employees. About 80 percent of our sales includes wholesaling, making this our biggest distribution channel. Other distribution channels include retail and business-to-business. 

 

Many basic financial processes were not in place

What are your current responsibilities as a CFO and how has your role changed over the years?
In my role as the CFO, I manage a staff of 10 at our financial department. As none of our branch offices operate its own financial department, the centralized (corporate) financial department is responsible for all of the financial processes (monitoring, analyses and reporting) across all of our channels.

Our revenue today is ten times bigger compared to 13 years ago and as such my role has also changed substantially over the years. I was the first CFO at Samson and when I started my first term, many basic financial processes were not in place yet. For example, there was no budgeting implemented and the company had not yet adopted any business planning process. Over the course of several years, my department has gradually developed and implemented these essential financial systems and procedures. Today we work much more systematically and we are able to support new business projects. 

 

Biggest achievement is the company-wide implementation of the different financial systems

What is your biggest achievement as a CFO?
Considering that at the start of my tenure there was no proper financial management regime in place, I would say my biggest achievement is the successful company-wide implementation of the different financial systems, and in particular the budgeting and a business planning systems and procedures. It took us quite some years to fully implement these and even today we are still continuously optimizing these systems. For the near future we are looking into changing our entire IT-infrastructure. Our company management is very impressed by SAP. However, due to the economic environment we have had to postpone this comprehensive project. It is after all a substantial investment, in both time and people.

How is your company performing and are you taking any additional measures to ensure growth? 
We expect to realize growth for 2014 but it will not be as robust as we have seen in previous years. In my view the Russian economy is already in a recession. Customers simply do not buy as much as they used to, which directly affects our turnover. Next to a decline in revenues we also see interest rates rising as a result of the EU and US sanctions. Compared to one year ago, current interest rates have climbed to pretty high levels. On average we have witnessed increases in interest rates against a growth rate of as much as 30%, making investing much more difficult as bank loans have gotten very expensive. 

To illustrate, we have put almost all of our investment projects on hold and are now only looking at investments in retail. But investing in our retail segment is also moderate as we are now opening 5 stores this year instead of the 20 that we initially had planned for. To the extent that the circumstances permit us, we will continue to seek opportunities that allow us to implement at least part of our business plans for the current year. Obviously, to secure the development of new projects in the future we are now also diverting our attention to alternative sources of money. 

As most of our company’s imports are sourced from China, we currently do not experience any major problems from European suppliers as a result of the recent economic restrictions. Our challenge is much more in terms of rising exchange rates. 

On the cost side we are looking to realize significant reductions. For one, we plan to scale down staff by 10 percent across all levels of the company. Also a large part of our costs are related to development, and as these projects are put on hold indefinitely, we expect to save a lot of money in this area as well. Clearly, we continue our focus on realizing a healthy bottom-line for the coming year, preparing the company for the next opportunity of growth.

This is a profile of one of the CFOs who've been questioned in the CFO Survey of TIAS and Duke University. Results of the latest CFO Survey show that optimism about the economy has reached its highest level. CFOs in Europe do not expect any further downsizing in fulltime employment for the next twelve months. Imbalances on labor market supply side could seriously inhibit growth in employment. 

Read more

European CFOs: Hiring is no longer curtailed but recovery remains fragile, TIAS (2014)
Quaterly Report of Q3 2014, CFO Survey (2014)

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