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HomeCorporate NewsPeter Weiss: Talks With The Member Of The Board At Expert International

Peter Weiss: Talks With The Member Of The Board At Expert International

Peter Weiss, the managing director of Expert Czech Republic and a board member at Expert International, has announced his retirement after a successful career in the retail industry spanning several decades.

We spoke with Mr. Weiss about his time at Expert Czech Republic, his thoughts on the current state of the retail industry, and his plans for retirement.

What motivated you to pursue a career in the retail industry, and how did you get your start?

It was never my aim to start in administration, but when I started at K+B Expert in Germany after school, everybody had to work the first year in the warehouse, the second year in the retail store, and ….. this was my final station.
After I took over the HiFi department and the role of the deputy manager, borders opened in 1989 and millions of Czech and Slovak people arrived in our shops to purchase.
We started to open our stores with a state-owned foreign trade company in Czechoslovakia and in 1991 also our wholesale activities. In 1993 we got the license from Expert International to build a local organization, which was founded in 1995. Since 2000 we have been an official shareholder of Expert International.

Looking back on your time as managing director at Expert Czech Republic, what accomplishments are you most proud of?

Together with our local partners and the support of the team of Expert International, we established a sustainable and profitable concept for our shareholders to be successful in our market.
We were the first electronic chain offering IT and GSM in our assortment and started with Space Management and planograms 20 years ago.
Today we are not the biggest player, but the only corporation supporting independent dealers on our market.

Together with our local partners and the support of the team of Expert International, we established a sustainable and profitable concept for our shareholders to be successful in our market.

Can you share any challenges you faced while leading Expert Czech Republic, and how you overcame them?

As I’m in my job from the very beginning there were a lot of challenges and most of them we overcame quite successfully.

The biggest challenge was the time when the big shopping centers arrived in our country with large sales floors for electronic, absolutely not profitable at that time.
We decided not to go this way and lost our market share in all the big cities in the Czech Republic. On the other hand, all companies going this way at that time were going bankrupt or had to sell the business.
From that point of view, it was the right decision.

How do you feel about the current state of the retail industry in the Czech Republic, and what changes have you seen during your time as managing director?

Alongside the changes with the entry of the shopping centers, the move toward Online Sales was the biggest change so far. Especially with a market share of more than 50% already at an early stage, it was like an earthquake for the retail market.
Luckily the time of the pure Internet players is over and now as an omnichannel company, we are gaining share again.

What do you think sets Expert Czech Republic apart from its competitors, and how has the company evolved under your leadership?

As already mentioned before, we are the only buying group offering a solution for individual retail partners and focusing on a strong position in the region we are. Unfortunately, we didn’t succeed with our network in the big cities as our partners
were not able to take these big losses as an investment into the brand.

Whether our way was successful or not is more a question for our shareholders and business partners. We always tried our best.

In addition to your involvement with Expert Czech Republic, you have also been on the board of Expert International for more than 10 years. Looking back at that time, what have been the most important steps for the group over the past decade?

The basis for the further existence of the group was to change the managing director at the beginning as there was a challenge of the trust of the members of the group.
After Dieter Mathys, the new MD, brought the group back together we needed to face the challenge of e-commerce. Luckily, we had Dario Sipos an absolute specialist in our group, and Dieter and the board decided to establish the DCC (Digital Competence Center) working with Google, Adobe, and all the big players in this field. After Dieter stepped back for a known reason, we needed a new MD, to define a new strategy for the next decade and bring professionalism in the area of reporting and projects like sustainability.

How do you see the role of a private label, and what it takes to be successful when establishing a private label?

Private label is a very important part of the business in the retail business. As most of the A-brands losing their position it is no longer limited to the low-price assortment and is crucial for the profitability and independence of the retail business.

To be successful it needs to be a part of the DNA of the whole company and reach the right portion of the whole assortment.

What have you learned working directly with Asian manufacturers?

What I’ve learned from the Asian manufactures would be enough to write a whole book 😊
Starting with a really very low quality of products, produced in terrible environment they reached a quality level equal to the top manufactures in Europe.

Their self-confidence is impressive and they are able to improve the quality step by step with a flexibility we would never expect.
Their way of thinking is different from ours and often hard to understand but their friendliness and openness are remarkable.

If you have a good concept and you are convinced of it, go this way.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their retail management career?

If you want to make a fast career with earn a lot of money soon, please start in a different business.
If you like this kind of business and you like people, you will never change to other industry sectors. Retail makes you addicted.
It is not necessary to stay in one group for more than 40 years as I did, but if you want to be really successful, you need almost 10 years to stay.
Preferably is to work in a private company as you will be much more flexible and responsible for the result of your business instead of listening to a too large headquarters.

What are some key qualities that you believe are essential for success as a retail executive?

To have success in retail business you need to have the right feeling in your stomach in combination with the right figures and the ability to take some limited risk.
If you don’t have this feeling, forget it, you cannot learn it. Please do something else.

Looking back on your career, is there anything you would have done differently?

Yes, but only with the know-how I have today.
If you have a good concept and you are convinced of it, go this way. Don’t listen to all the people who doubt and argue. Get rid of these people and go your way.

What are your plans for retirement, and do you see yourself staying involved in the retail industry in any capacity? Since you are retiring from a busy job, what is your next project?

I wouldn’t speak about retirement as I’m still feeling quite young. Just after more than 40 years in our group I think, somebody new must come and lead our company in a new way for the future.
Still, I’ll help my colleagues in the financial part of our company for the next years and watch the industry from a different perspective.
Privately I’ve a lot of plans I was never able to do in the past:
Besides my wine cellar, I invested in a new HiFi-equipment as I was selling this kind of product at the beginning of my career.
While I’ll be listening to nice music during autumn and wintertime, I want to try to discover the Croatian islands by boat as I’ve got my boat license this year.
To change the job title from Managing Director to Captain is not so bad I guess 😊.

Finally, what message would you like to leave with your colleagues and employees as you depart from your role at Expert Czech Republic?

I’m very grateful for all these years I could be part of this amazing company. Thank you to all colleagues from our team, from the international expert family, and the industry partners. I did enjoy it a lot. Please continue more clever in the future and find a sustainable way for our retail partners to exist.
To visit a shareholder family with a good-running business in the region is the real salary for a retail manager.

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