Customline Ltd – Project Development & Finance for a Chain of DIY Stores
Customline Ltd contacted Bridge Europe Consulting in May 2005, with the idea of developing a chain of do-it-yourself (“DIY”) stores in Romania. Customline is part of an experienced construction-industry group in the UK. Customline’s owners perceived the price differences and the product offering mismatch in the Romanian market.
Customline’s main business challenge related to their lack of expertise and business knowledge and resources within Romania.
We started with market research, which concluded that there was a significant gap in the market, and there would be enough room for a new chain. We then completed a feasibility study which concluded the project’s economic viability and recommended Timisoara as the location of the first store. Further, we developed a business plan for the chain, incorporating Customline’s vision, which we adapted to the local particularities of the market.
Once the concept received approval from the client, we commenced implementation. Thus, we assisted the client in securing the location for their first store in Timisoara, finding key staff and assembling the team, together with selecting all the necessary third parties involved in the project.
We established the strategy to ensure the right positioning from the very beginning, with focus on long-term success. One of the key aspects was to become “partners” with the suppliers and to have fair agreements. We designed the product mix, we determined the pricing strategy, we designed the company culture, systems and procedures, and all the key elements to ensure smooth operations, with the aim of opening 15 stores within 5 years.
We have assisted the client in the overall development of the project, as if we were part of their team. We conducted research on local and international suppliers and we negotiated the pre-agreements for merchandise in the stores. We even provided the General Manager for the Romanian operations, during the pre-opening phase. The first store was opened in Timisoara, in March 2007, following which two more stores were opened in the area.
Bridge Europe Consulting has successfully raised EUR 1.2 million to finance the first store. We created the funding structure. We are the pioneers in completing such transaction in Romania, and we consider this financing a major success, especially because the business had not had any assets to be used as collateral, nor secured sales contracts or any sort of security for the bank. The only collateral available was real estate assets with a total value amounting to EUR 350,000.