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UNO: Time to invest is now

Family-owned supermarket chain UNO Potraviny is beginning an active search for an investor and says that now is the right time for someone to buy into the market in Slovakia. Despite the proliferation of hypermarkets on the market, the importance of convenient neighbourhood supermarkets is undiminished, the company says, and it is still possible now to acquire first class locations at reasonable prices.
The Slovak Spectator sat down with UNO's managing director Peter Weiss October 31 to hear what he had to say about conditions for potential partners.


UNO stores feel that living standards have risen to the point that food industry investment makes sense.
photo: Courtesy UNO

Family-owned supermarket chain UNO Potraviny is beginning an active search for an investor and says that now is the right time for someone to buy into the market in Slovakia. Despite the proliferation of hypermarkets on the market, the importance of convenient neighbourhood supermarkets is undiminished, the company says, and it is still possible now to acquire first class locations at reasonable prices.

The Slovak Spectator sat down with UNO's managing director Peter Weiss October 31 to hear what he had to say about conditions for potential partners.


The Slovak Spectator (TSS): One question that would be on the mind of any potential investor into a Slovak firm is what are the conditions on the market. What is the situation in Slovakia's food distribution industry?

Peter Weiss (PW): The Slovak food market is at the beginning of a phase of rapid change and expansion. Living standards are rising and more money is being spent on better foods. International chains are entering the market but seem to be mainly interested in large hypermarket units. This is an opportunity to acquire and build a profitable chain of neighbourhood stores.


TSS: Is there anything that UNO Potraviny has, as a smaller chain of stores, that makes its position on the market special?

PW: We feel UNO is in a perfect position to make use of the opportunities on the Slovak market for the following reasons: We operate four profitable supermarkets, have a top-flight proven Austrian/Slovak management team, know the market and the important players, are poised and ready for growth and have agreements in place to purchase a number of important stores.


TSS: Regarding the proliferation of hypermarkets on the market, will this present a problem for smaller chains like yourself?

PW: It may be a problem for some firms. The important questions are with location, prices and convenience. People don't like to go further than they have to for everyday things they need. Hypermarkets tend to put downward pressure on prices for consumers but a well-stocked local store with a wide variety of goods, good presentation and low prices will always attract customers.


TSS: Are there any particular problems to doing business here for firms like UNO?

PW: I don't think that the problems here are any worse than they are in any other eastern European country. However, the opportunities for are far greater now following the developments in the last few years.


TSS: If there is one thing that you could say to a potential investor that would attract them to UNO, a similar firm, or Slovakia, what would it be?

PW: Investors who go in now will reap a great reward. Those who come in later will find the situation far more difficult, because by then all the best locations will be in firm hands. Also, the rising standard of living should make food distribution much more interesting here in the next few years.

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