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Interview with Mindaugas Bagdonavicius, General Director, Maxima Grupe

By Adam Mullett. 06.01.2009

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What gives Maxima the X-factor that makes it one of the greatest success stories of the region and the biggest retail chain of the Baltics?

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» The X-factor

Maxima started from small beginnings in Vilnius, but is now sprawled across four countries. What do you think propelled the company to success?
– Maximalism, goal attainment, and the organization of a team of people with similar views have allowed us to achieve the results you see today. The main driving force of all which has contributed to the foundation of the company was and still is the attainment of our goals.
Firstly, we demand the best from ourselves and from others every single day; the main working principle is to do things that other people only talk about. Secondly, we always try to satisfy our customers so that they come back to us, because our customers are the driving force of our business.
It is obvious that an absence of customers is equal to the halt of the retail business. The customer as a person and his personal needs encourage us to develop constantly, move forwards, improve, and take into consideration not only local but global tendencies as well.
Thirdly, market competition encourages us to work effectively, constantly reconsider our activities, and compete for every customer that is looking for general goods and services and special offers.

What are the key factors when looking for new markets?
– In foreign countries we try not only to stick to a business plan that is more than ten years old, but we also take into consideration the customer needs and market specifics of a particular country. These are the key factors.
Before starting business in new markets it is vital to perform a thorough analysis of the foreign market, the competitive environment, and to assess your own potential and capabilities. And in order to gain customer acceptance, we try to offer them exactly what they need – comfortable shopping, the best prices, a wide variety of goods and quality service.

What challenges and failings has Maxima Group faced, and learned from?
– Maxima Grupe has the best specialists from all of the countries we have shops in. This is a team of professional trading specialists. Their actions speak for themselves. The majority of the team members started their careers in our company from the very beginning. These people developed together with the company, gaining experience and skills. The remaining members professionally joined the company during its expansion, improvement, and modernization, making its activities more effective than before.
In Lithuania, they say that if you worked at Maxima you can apply for any other job in the trading field. Today, Maxima is a place where many excellent shop assistants, cashiers, directors, specialists and other managers of the highest level are born.

What plans for expansion do you have for the next decade?
– On the one hand, Maxima shapes the trends of the retail market. On the other, we are a company influenced by the surroundings and especially global economic factors. We felt changes in consumption already at the beginning of this year.
In summer, we performed comprehensive studies and the results revealed that more than half of all buyers in the Baltic countries feared the economic recession. The majority of buyers stated even then that their consumption would change.
Being the owners of the biggest retail chain in the Baltic states, we had to react to the changing situation, give new offers to our clients, and make new decisions on business expansion. During the last year the Maxima retail chain has been intensely expanding in all countries.
According to research performed in all three Baltic states, almost half the citizens of Lithuania, almost a third in Latvia and 12 percent in Estonia, i.e., the majority in each country, think that if the economic situation worsens Maxima will take care of its customers in the best way possible. We must satisfy these expectations. That’s why my main objective when our active expansion is complete will be to increase the effectiveness of our activities, optimize the processes and reduce expenditures–all this so we can offer our goods and services for the lowest price.

How do you think the global financial crisis will affect Maxima’s expansion plans?
– We will take into consideration the changing situation and continue to do our best to offer our customers quality products and services. I will concentrate my work on increasing the effectiveness of our activities. Accordingly, we will reconsider investments and are planning a slower expansion. Nevertheless, we will finish running existing projects and will only start new ones where the need for new shops is evident.


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