How Turkish textile workers conquered Kazan

A Turkish business mission organised by the Russian-Turkish company MAT International has visited Tatarstan

The representatives of more than twenty companies from Turkey came to Kazan to meet with potential business partners and present their products. The business mission was organised by the Russian-Turkish company MAT International and Realnoe Vremya online newspaper. The main focus was on the textile market: Kazan has been visited by manufacturers of fabrics, children's clothing, shoes, and carpets. First, a large-scale meeting was held, at which more than 200 companies participated from the Tatarstan side, and at the end of the visit, the Turkish delegation met with the head of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency, Taliya Minullina.

1,2 billion dollars in 2022

According to the data provided to our publication by the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency, in 2022 the total trade turnover of Tatarstan with Turkey amounted to 1,2 billion US dollars, of which exports account for 968,3 million, imports — 230 million.

Cooperation penetrates into many industries: most of the investments are in industry, followed by construction. Agriculture is also an attractive industry for investment, as Taliya Minullina told at the meeting. By the way, two Turkish business missions already visited Kazan in 2022: one brought together companies that presented machinery and chemicals for agriculture, there was another “team” delegation with a variety of products: from date jam to transformer parts.

Turkey remains one of Russia's friendly countries, so the previous year and all related events have given trade and investment relations between the countries a new impetus. The Turkish manufacturer was able to qualitatively replace many European positions that have left the Russian market: from complex machine-building industries to household chemicals and fabrics.

At a meeting with the Turkish delegation, the head of the Investment Developemnt Agency of Tatarstan, Taliya Minullina, drew attention to that Tatarstan accounts for at least half of all investments of Turkish companies in Russia. And this is not surprising: Turkish business often chooses our republic as a starting point for further conquest of Russia.

As the delegation members themselves explain to Realnoe Vremya, this is due to two main directions: firstly, Tatarstan is one of the most dynamically developing and investment-attractive Russian regions. Secondly, as a people of Turkic origin, the Tatars have common roots with the Turks, the language of the same group and a similar mentality. And this helps a lot in doing business.

Olga Belova, the marketing director of the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs, tells our publication that recently Turkish business has been entering Russia more and more actively to establish business ties — in particular, participates in exhibitions:

“Statistics of the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs indicate the growing interest of Turkish exhibitors in Russian events: for example, in 2021, 237 Turkish companies took part in 42 exhibitions of the union members, and according to preliminary results of 2022, this is already more than 800 exhibitors in 58 exhibitions. Indicators of the pre-pandemic 2019 year have not yet been achieved: then 1,054 Turkish companies were represented at 90 exhibitions. But it's a matter of time — the industry is still recovering from the shocks of recent years. Top 3 industry topics by the number of Turkish participants: food industry, furniture and interior, textiles and clothing.

A cup of tea drunk together is more important than a giant investment

The Turkish business mission was organised by the Russian-Turkish company MAT International, a distributor of more than 50 large Turkish companies. Its focus is comprehensive support of business relations between companies from Russia and Turkey. The company's specialists have been working in the field of trade and investment projects between the two countries for more than 20 years and therefore can undertake the organisation of the most complex processes, including logistics, financial calculations, distribution, negotiation, paperwork, product certification, etc. The company's goal is to become a kind of link, a bridge between Turkish business and partners in Russia, in particular in Tatarstan.

Business missions are becoming an important part of this process. As Aida Zaripova, the co-founder of the company, told our publication, going into business with big investments is one thing. It is quite another thing to have a cup of tea at lunch with your potential business partner and build a more trusting relationship. The mentality of Turkish business is based on personal contacts and personal acquaintances. That is why the heads of the largest companies in different sectors travel to Russia to get acquainted with their potential partners. And MAT International helps in this.

MAT International has brought two dozen textile industries to Kazan

A new stage of interaction was devoted to the textile business. In March, Tatarstan designers and clothing manufacturers made a large-scale trip to Bursa, the city where Turkish high-tech production of fabrics and ready-to-wear is concentrated. Several of the country's largest enterprises are based in this city and presented their capacities to Tatarstan market players.

In turn, companies that produce carpets, fabric for sewing curtains, upholstery, and clothing manufacturing entered Kazan. There were also manufacturers of end products that sew children's clothing, shoes and adult models. The business meeting was organised by MAT International with the participation of our publication.

In the review of Realnoe Vremya, the representatives of sewing industries from all over the Volga region have already said that Turkish fabrics are becoming the main alternative to Italian and German ones that have left the Russian market. They meet the requirements both in terms of quality, aesthetics, and manufacturability of production. At the same time, they are given a much more comfortable price than the Italians. Turkish fabric, according to our interlocutors from the industry, is head and shoulders above Chinese: if China can reproduce samples well, then Turkey creates its own unique collections.

More than 200 representatives of Tatarstan companies, one way or another interested in working together, gathered at the B2B meeting in the format of an exhibition in the Adriana restaurant. Interior designers looked curiously at the samples of curtain and upholstery fabrics, as well as carpets. The creators of clothing brands recognised: they are also interested in fabrics and the opportunity to sew their collections on the basis of Turkish factories (there is an acute shortage of workers in sewing industries in Russia, and the participants of our survey also talked about this). There were also representatives of state bodies: the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tatarstan and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

“If you want to invest in Tatarstan, we will help”

Not all two dozen representatives of Turkish business came to the meeting with the head of the Investment Development Agency, Taliya Minullina, but only those who plan to place their production in Tatarstan. Aykut Balcıoğlları, co-founder of MAT International, thanked Taliya Minullina at the beginning of the meeting:

“This is the third time I have been to Kazan and again I have brought a large delegation. We thank you for your active help during our first visit — we received comprehensive information that helped our companies navigate.

The head of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency listened to Turkish entrepreneurs who asked her questions and voiced plans for work in Tatarstan. For example, Demere produces carpets with digital application and is interested in the possibility of opening a production in Tatarstan.

“Now it is a good time to invest in our republic: if you are the first, it will be easier for you. Carpet production is not a bad idea: the carpet is popular in Tatar culture," Taliya Minullina replied. “But I suggest moving step by step: we have a lot of shops selling carpets. Study the market, and I think you will find a niche in our republic. For our part, we are ready to help, inform, give advice. If you want to invest in Tatarstan, we will help!”

The head of the Armada factory spoke about his production of curtain fabrics and furniture upholstery. He asked for advice on which direction he should work in order to enter the Tatarstan market. The head of the Tatarstan Investment Agency advised him to turn to the niche vacated after the departure of IKEA from the Russian market:

“They offered ready-made, already sewn curtains and drapes. You could come and buy everything at once. Many of us are not ready to wait. I've recently ordered interior items for my house — I had to wait for three months, and on condition of full prepayment! I think if you think in this direction — immediately sew off a certain amount of finished goods and sell it — there will be demand. Of course, there is a certain risk in this, but, on the other hand, curtains are not perishable goods, and you will not have losses. At the same time, Tatarstan is actively being built up: our republic is in the top 5 in Russia by residential construction. And all the people who buy apartments need curtains right now. Now and inexpensively. And they are not ready to wait three months!”

Taliya Minullina drew the attention of the founders of MAT International — Aida Zaripova, Aykut Balcıoğlları, and Marat Zaripov — to the fact that niches for the production of sports equipment and medical equipment remain free in Tatarstan. Our republic, according to the head of the Tatarstan Investment Developemnt Agency, is an attractive direction in many areas of investment.

“I hope we will find a lot of common ground to work together!” concluding the meeting, she summed up.

As the participants of the Turkish business mission tell Realnoe Vremya, in a few days in Kazan they managed to make dozens of business acquaintances, hold a series of negotiations and reach initial agreements with Tatarstan entrepreneurs.

Lyudmila Gubaeva

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