Meet the new CEO

After more than 25 years of working with local and international companies, Markus Gotthardt brings his leadership and brand-building skills to Saga Furs. He entered the role as CEO of Saga Furs in May and now shares his thoughts on the company and the fur industry.

You have been at Saga Furs for a couple of weeks. What are your first impressions?
The company and the people are very nice, warm, and welcoming. Of course, there are many things for me to learn and understand. But then again, this is a normal organisation with normal functions, so it’s nothing new from that perspective.

There are more analogies than there are differences.

Previously, you have worked in the fast-moving consumer goods field. It seems sort of far away from fur?

Not really, no. I mean, if you look at the ownership of HKScan, it’s also owned by the producers. It also relies on a cooperative decision-making process within the board. You have the farmers taking the decisions and live animals being produced. So, there are more analogies than there are differences.

Of course, the demand for food is more constant than the demand for fur since people eat every day. But, on the contrary, there are clear seasons when you will be selling in the fur business. So, there are a lot of things for me to get used to, but still, I think it’s not that different from fast-moving consumer goods.

Do you want to share any reasons why you switched from HKScan to Saga?

It seemed like a very nice and interesting opportunity to be the CEO of a publicly noted company. Having met with the board of Saga Furs first made it even easier to decide. I find it easy to talk to our chairman and his colleagues. So, many things aligned, really.

The mindset of the company and our business partners is essential for our success.

Is there anything you learned working in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) that you think the fur business could benefit from?

The FMCG business is a lot about planning, analysing and approaching the market in a very traditional way. I still believe that’s a viable way to conduct business. You have to work out your strategy properly and then execute your plans in an agreed manner and time.

When applied to the fur business, this approach underlines the strategic importance of caring for our producers and our buying customers. Saga Furs might lack direct contact with the customers, but we still have a strong brand, and we can influence branded houses and how they will market their products. We can also help them with information about our raw material, which is something that people in the FMCG business do quite well. So yes, I think there are many things we can learn from the FMCG business.

Above all, I think that the mindset of the company and our business partners is essential for our success. And what I mean by that is that if we have a good strategy, committed people and a clear market position, I believe we have all the necessary means to build a successful business. From what I’ve seen these first few weeks, the people working here are very committed. We still need to sort out with our strategy and position, but I think we’re on the right path.

I predict that we will see a very high demand for fur in a few years.

There are struggles in the fur industry at the moment. Do you have any comments on what the fur industry needs right now to move forward?

The industry needs to focus on the basic business, and we need to get over covid. Especially the situation in China is changing from month to month, which creates many problems for us. The demand hasn’t gone anywhere, but people are more cautious with their spending. But when they get out again and the industries start working, there will be two years of suspended consumption needs.

I predict that we will see a very high demand for fur in a few years, especially in China and Russia but also in other markets. I think the market will recover from the current unfavourable situation with low volumes and low prices. We’ll go into higher volumes but also much higher prices.

What do you expect in your new role, looking at the coming year?

I look forward to a lot of work and a lot of fun. There have been so many surprises during the first two weeks that I can’t even imagine what will happen in a year. So, let’s take one thing at a time. It will be good fun!