Nikolay Arnaudov has more than 15 years of experience at the FMCG industry as the brand manager of Milka and Suchard in Kraft. He was the marketing manager and sales director at Frito-Lay, and is currently part of Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria, where he set the beginning of the first Commercial Excellence team in Bulgaria.
Mr. Arnaudov, innovation has turned into a constant business accelerator. What are the novelties that are important to clients and consumers and that you have recently introduced at Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria?
We strive for our innovations to follow the trends, so we can make sure that we are building a sustainable business. The urbanization and shrinking of households, including in Bulgaria, has led to a major change in our home consumption packages – instead of the 1.25l and 2l range, we already have a new 1l, 1.5l and 2l range for the carbonated soft drinks. Thus, we give an opportunity to smaller households to easily and conveniently choose a product with the right amount they consume. We are trying for Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite to have a sugar-free option in order to meet the expectations of consumers who want to reduce the calories in their diet.
You are the Director of Strategic Planning, or the so-called Commercial Excellence. What is your commitment to the company?
Our main goal is to make the changes before we actually need them. Commercial Excellence is a new feature for the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods sector in Bulgaria, but it does exist in the other countries of the Coca-Cola HBC Group. I would conditionally divide our work into three directions: revenue growth, category management and market research. The most tangible changes are in the digitalisation of our business. Currently, around 50% of our refrigerators have digital connectivity, which helps us offer the most accurate assortment to our clients and to provide them with better service. We are looking for new consumer survey opportunities related to future trends and unaddressed market niches.
You will probably say that Coca-Cola has no competition, but practically, you are competing with many other manufacturers. How do you get to the heart and the fridge of consumers?
We have many competitors, as we are present in 8 different categories of beverages in Bulgaria: carbonated drinks, juices, water, cold tea, energy drinks, alcohol, etc. Working with a rich portfolio as ours is a privilege. Coca-Cola is an iconic brand that is more than 130 years old and that has built an emotional connection with its consumers; Schweppes and Fanta have long been in the heart of Bulgarians, so, we are trying to provide an easy access to our drinks. Our extensive portfolio helps us to be available 24 hours – from breakfast, with Cappy, throughout the daytime drinking, with our carbonated drinks, to the night hours when it is time for quality alcohol, such as The Macallan, Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia. Hydration with Bankya and Rosa is important at all times. Bulgaria will also be one of the first markets of Coca-Cola HBC, where in 2020, we will launch the Costa Coffee retail line.
Production has environmental aspects as well. We know about the problem with plastic and the difficulties with transportation and recycling of glass. How do you react in response to that?
I will start from the point where we have indisputable success – the HoReCa channel (hotels, restaurants, cafes); through the reusable glass bottles we manage to minimize our footprint on nature. I want to thank everyone who helps us in this – partners, clients, consumers. In 2018, we recycled 95% of the generated waste in our production. In 2019, as part of the Coca-Cola World without Waste system commitment, over 1000 of our employees and their families joined the World Cleaning Day in 14 localities in Bulgaria and turned 10 public transport stops in Sofia into containers for separate waste collection.
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