Slovak businessmen had long dreamt of creating a major new logistics park on half a million square metres of agricultural land located adjacent to a major transportation artery north of the capital Bratislava. However, the land was owned in small parcels by more than a thousand individuals, many of whom could not be traced, and had no prospects for obtaining planning permissions. After a decade of trying the project failed, but Sisban saw the vision, took over the project cheaply and set about using VAT to make it a reality. Despite being an overseas investor with no prior Slovak experience, Sisban worked closely with its legal/planning advisers and leveraged its network into the Slovak government to find creative solutions to the problems over land ownership and the permissioning regulations. In 2019 the project, branded Sihot Park, was finally approved and we are now well on our way towards constructing one of the largest light industry and logistics projects in Central Eastern Europe, tenanted on long leases by blue chip multinationals.
Investors have always been attracted by the rich potential of agricultural lands in Egypt, and Sisban is no exception. However, rarely have investors made a financial or commercial success of their projects because they have not understood inefficient local working practices or that poor product quality restricts markets and selling prices. Sisban applied VAT at its farms to modify and improve how staff operate and are incentivised and to upgrade and modernise processing and packaging facilities. By learning from, investing in and applying international best practices, as well as through a relentless focus on quality, Sisban’s farms received international quality certifications which opened up more lucrative European and UK markets. Our farms are now major suppliers to dozens of international supermarket chains for an ever wider range of products. Our VAT approach to such a traditional activity as farming has led us to be recognised as market leaders in the region and resulted in us continually being approached to collaborate with new partners to transform their assets also.
As COVID struck in March 2020 the revenues of our UK F&B operations collapsed due to government enforced restaurant closures. Whilst others saw disaster, through our positive attitude we saw problems that needed solutions, and quickly pivoted our business operations towards online sales and home deliveries to generate new revenues, support costs and keep our staff meaningfully engaged. Sisban is accustomed to turning adversity into opportunity, but to fully capitalise on this change of business direction we needed to maximise the geographical delivery reach of our brands to connect with customers. Through applying VAT we rapidly redeployed resources and refitted equipment so that each of our restaurant kitchens was able to prepare food from the menus of each of our other brands. This massively expanded our delivery capabilities and hence increased sales, enabling our F&B operations to ride through the worst impacts of the COVID restrictions. It also widened all of our brands’ exposure to new customers across the UK capital, which is benefitting all sites as the market now reopens.