You’d be forgiven for thinking that cars are the beating heart of Tokić, given that it’s an automotive retail group. But CEO Ivan Gadze enthuses that it’s truly the people behind the products that make the company as successful as it is. “I think that we are the best company in the world,” he smiles.
“Our people are so dedicated to innovation and to the performance of the business.” It’s this very thought process that prompted Ivan to invest roughly 1.5% of company revenue into the development of its people, with a specialised internal academy focused on further improving elements of the operations.
“We’re dedicated to the culture of continuous improvement,” Ivan tells The CEO Magazine. “If we invest in people and show them respect, they take care of the company and manage the business.”
It’s those fundamental principles that have proved to be one of the distinguishing factors that set Tokić apart from its peers – and even earned the company an impressive international accolade.
“Two years ago, we were recognised as a ‘Future Shaper’ by the London Stock Exchange Group. We were nominated as one of the 50 most innovative companies in its ELITE program,” Ivan proudly explains.
“It was a big achievement for us – a recognition in terms of what we’re doing. They said that we’d created a company culture that is so innovative, so open-minded and so brave, it makes us different from other businesses they’ve seen.”
This mentality extends well beyond Tokić’s own employees as well, with Ivan clarifying that there’s a reason why it has established a reputation as one of the most reliable and transparent companies in the automotive industry.
“We openly communicate with our employees, our customers, our suppliers and our investors,” he says. “We believe that having an honest approach is much more sustainable and successful. Transparency is one of our most important values, which has really helped build up trust between all stakeholders.”
In Ivan’s quest for absolute operational excellence and longevity, it’s essential that Tokić has strong partnerships to align the whole supply chain. In order to do so, the business ensures that while dealing with suppliers – all 250 of them – there is an open and honest communication process, acting with integrity every single step of the way.
“Knowledge sharing is important, and a good relationship with suppliers gives us effectiveness and efficiencies in our supply chain,” Ivan explains. “We’re transparent in terms of our strategy, which gives them trust in us. The fact that we only work with top-quality suppliers gives our name credibility.”
Foundations of success
When Ivan first joined Tokić in 2015, he brought with him a wealth of experience garnered over two decades across a variety of industries, having cut his teeth at information technology and services giant Nielsen before moving to other companies, including supermarket chain Konzum and tourism company adriatica.net.
Ivan’s introduction into Tokić came as a result of the original owners deciding to take a step back. And while the transition was gradual, he appreciated the “strong foundations” of the family-owned business and was excited by the potential for growth and expansion. “It was a successful business. However, the question was whether it was sustainable or not in the long-term,” he says.
“The first big investment we did in 2015 was to build up the new logistics centre. On top of that, we started processes like forecasting and automatic replenishment. The biggest challenge for me, which is also something I’m very proud of, was to build up the professional management team. It was very important for us to define the new management structure, to build up the new leaders.”
From there, Tokić flourished, and in the six years since Ivan has been at the helm, the advancements have been immense – going from 300 to 950 employees and increasing revenue from €42 million to €160 million.
Today, Tokić has more than 140 retail stores throughout Croatia and Slovenia, with more than 300,000 different product offerings spanning the motorcycle, commercial and agricultural spheres.
It also exports to 14 countries across Europe. Ivan believes part of the company’s success comes down to this extensive range of products, so that “the customer has the opportunity to choose”.
“We have a good, better, best strategy, meaning that we have a premium product, a mid-range product and an entry-level product,” he points out. “It’s about the value of freedom. The customer needs the option. If you compare us to our competition, you’ll see our availability is by far the best.”
Now, looking to the future, Ivan says Tokić is looking to continue fine-tuning supply chain operations, from logistics to store operations, and investing in automation and robotisation in the warehouse to streamline processes and enhance efficiency. “Another challenge we see as an opportunity to improve is that of working capital,” he says.
“We’re very much driven by the level of stocks, so the data science team is working on forecasting, replenishment and order management. “We’re investing heavily in technology and the digital transformation to the new business model because we believe that having the size but also internal efficiencies is what makes us successful in the long-term.”
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