Valeriu Ion from iSTYLE, Apple Premium Reseller, interviewed by connect Romania
"2020 was a year in which we suffered, but in which we learned some lessons that turned us into a stronger and more united team."
connect Romania, one of the most popular IT sector websites in Eastern Europe, recently interviewed Valeriu Ion, General Manager of iSTYLE Romania, Bulgaria and the Adriatic countries.
Talking with Claudiu Râpan, Valeriu spoke about iSTYLE’s presence on the Romanian market, the effect of the iPhone 12 range on the Group end of the year results and how hard work led to doubled online sales compared to 2019, a great result considering the challenges of the last 12 months.
Valeriu began by talking about the size of the Romanian market. It’s got great development potential, he believes. “iSTYLE has been present on this market since 1999, a period in which I believe that we have managed to develop business, educate consumers and serve the demand for Apple products for the most important cities in the country. We are part of a group with tradition in selling Apple products, and we have always benefited from their know-how, so our direction was quite clear.”
Claudiu Râpan then asked Valeriu how the Romanian market compares with its neighbours in Western and Central Europe, where iSTYLE operates both physically and online? The brand is present in nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe, but Valeriu sees the greatest resemblance to the Czech market; “a great potential for development; educated customers, but also fierce competition.”
Valeriu points out the increases in business each year aligned with changes put in place as part of a growth strategy, either related to newly opened stores or perhaps building personnel infrastructure. “Each time we had an increase of ‘two digits YoY’, or over 10% each year. Regarding 2020, it was same as for most of the companies, a very difficult year, with many challenges but we managed to pass it well and adapt to the new requirements, ending with an increase of 8% compared to 2019.”
Claudiu Râpan asked Valeriu how was 2020 financially for iSTYLE, and whether the pandemic affected the smooth running of stores:
“Our core business is defined as a retail operator with an online presence, but we are also a player with experience in the B2B market. Thus, when we had to stop the main engine overnight, we had to reinvent ourselves and compensate for the most important component of the activity… Overall, it was a year in which we suffered, but in which we learned some lessons that, I dare say, turned us into a stronger and more united team. In 2020 we doubled our online sales compared to 2019, and the ascending trend continues in the beginning of 2021.” explained Valeriu.
The online interview also explored market potential across the region. Claudiu Râpan asked Valeriu about the market with the highest growth potential in the region, from iSTYLE’s perspective. “Following our evolution in Romania, as well as the changes in the Apple business model that appeared this year, I can clearly say that Romania is in the center of attention, but I would put the Adriatic countries in the same bracket.”