In 2007, SEAF invested in Gomex, a promising grocery store chain in Serbia, through our South Balkan Fund. In just two years following SEAF’s investment, employment at the company went from 302 to 521, as Gomex grew from 16 stores in 2007 to 45 in 2009. Recognizing that financing alone was not sufficient to support the competitive and sustainable growth of the company, SEAF provided Gomex with extensive pre- and post-investment business assistance.
A Beneficial Partnership
To maximize the potential of Gomex’s rapidly growing workforce, SEAF recruited specialized industry experts to provide training to employees across all organizational levels. Gomex’s middle and senior management staff received training in customer relations, management, finance, human resources, tax and inventory management. Store managers attended workshops on quality of service, customer loyalty, and merchandising. SEAF assisted Gomex in the selection of a new information management system to improve overall operational efficiency. To improve industry competitiveness, operational standards, and financial efficiency, SEAF also organized a 3-day visit to a Dutch supermarket chain for Gomex’s senior management and a visit from the CEO of SPAR Poland, one of the world’s largest food store chains. The CEO of SPAR visited Gomex stores and advised Gomex’s CEO in the area of store layout, cost management, merchandising, and expansion planning. Over the last three years, SEAF played a vital role in selecting Gomex’s management team, analyzing the potential acquisition targets, negotiating favorable financing terms, and providing assistance in the overall growth strategy formulation.
As a result of SEAF’s partnership and aggressive business assistance, Gomex has been able to successfully and sustainably expand. Despite the global economic climate, Gomex experienced a 35% increase in sales in the first half of 2010, compared to the first half of 2009. Gomex is now the largest and most well-known grocery store chain in Banat county in the north-east region of Serbia.