Are these changes here to stay or are they temporary perhaps? Are the post-Covid operations going to be different?
As for digitalization, these changes are here to stay. But, for example, the work from home, which was a necessity during the pandemic, is neither a good nor a healthy solution for people in the long run. The isolation isn’t natural. That’s why we have undertaken all measures necessary to get as many people as possible back to the office. On the other hand, there are certain business segments, and in particular the telecommunications sector, where work from home has proven to be a good solution. For example, people working in call centers (sales and support), have learned how to do their work from home. We also taught and trained our salespeople in physical stores how to handle tele-sales activities. Thus, we managed to build their capacities and increase the span of their job, but we also helped them master some additional skills.
PPF Group is recognizable in Serbia as the owner of Telenor. Can you tell us what else, besides the telecommunications companies, do you have in your portfolio?
In addition to the telecommunications companies, we are active in in the sectors of media, financial services, banking, biotechnology, transportation, real estate, e-commerce, and we are slowly investing in some smaller yet new business segments. As for the geographical areas in which we are present, in addition to Europe, we also run our operations in Asia and Southeast Asia and the United States.
The pandemic is not over yet and the business world is in an obvious fear of the uncertainty that it is faced with. What are your investment plans, given this uncertainty?
I have given up trying to predict and understand how the pandemic situation will further develop. So many predictions by so many smart people, and they were completely wrong. It is therefore best not to predict. As a group, we have proven that we are able to cope with difficult situations, and in that sense, I am not worried or concerned. Therefore, we will continue investing, looking into new opportunities, and these may be an addition to the existing businesses, but also, something completely new.
What is it that you are not going to tell us?
I can only tell you that investing and researching new business opportunities is in our DNA, but it is way too early to talk about specific projects. As for the areas in which we are present, we have no immediate intention of expanding into new markets, but as far as business is concerned, we will certainly continue to invest, even in some new business segments. We have recently partnered up with the Beneteau company, the world's largest producer of holiday sailboats and we invest in sailboat chartering. This business has suffered great damage due to the Covid crisis, but we believe that long term, this is an attractive business. This joint venture will be number one in the industry, in terms of sales, with a pre-Covid annual revenue of around EUR 1 billion.