Investing in Local Talent
Noam Weiman, Group CEO, Diplomat Global, reveals why the prominent international consumer goods sales and distribution company, established in Israel some 50 years ago, has enjoyed doing business in Cyprus for over a decade.
What made you choose Cyprus for Diplomat’s expansion here in 2011? And what are some of the other elements that make Cyprus an attractive investment destination for Israeli companies?
We chose to operate in the Cypriot market because Diplomat has rich experience and the advanced capabilities and processes in working with modern trade that dominate the island’s fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. It was an opportunity for us to establish our footprint in Europe and extend our collaboration with Procter & Gamble, which we already represented in four other markets.
What are some of the areas that you believe could be improved to both attract more Israeli (and other international) companies to Cyprus and also better serve those already here?
Overall, based on our 10 years of experience, Cyprus is a very good market to operate in for foreign companies. The key to their success in Cyprus is to develop local talents who will be proficient in the market.
How does Cyprus compare to other countries where you do business, such as Israel, Georgia, South Africa and New Zealand?
Cypriot consumers are smart shoppers; they look for products with the best value for their money, like their counterparts in most of the markets we operate in. The trade structure is very similar to the Israeli market, meaning successful local retailers.
Do you consider your company’s interaction with local government and non-government entities in Cyprus to be positive?
It is very positive. I remember how, 10 years ago, when I first visited Cyprus, I found it very comfortable to do business with Cypriot people and companies.
Are there major investment risks connected to doing business in Cyprus? If yes, please elaborate.
No, I don’t consider it as a risk. I strongly believe in the potential of the Cypriot market. In fact, we are very interested in expanding our business in it and investing accordingly.
Your Cyprus-based leadership team is made up of local professionals. Does this mean you place importance on maintaining a strong local link with all the countries you do business in?
I strongly believe in local talents! In all the markets we operate in, we have invested a lot to develop local talents to lead the business. In Cyprus, I’m very proud to say, Diplomat Cyprus has been successfully led by Mikellis Christou for the last three years. Mikellis has been with the company from the day it was founded.
Do you consider Cyprus’ geographical location a bonus or a hindrance, given the current geopolitical situation?
I see Cyprus’ geographical location as an advantage. Firstly, since it is part of Europe and secondly, thanks to the short distance from our headquarters.
To what extent was your business in Cyprus affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Was it the same in all the countries in which you have a presence?
Back in March 2020, when COVID-19 had just broken out, I instructed the company’s leading team to prioritise the safety of our employees, followed by ensuring that we continued to provide the best service to our customers. This approach, and in light of the fact that consumers have spent more time at home more, meant that we managed to successfully grow our business in Cyprus as in other markets in which we operate.
How has the wholesale sector in Cyprus, and your company in particular, evolved over the past decade?
It has developed in line with modern trade in Europe, on account of the traditional retailers with multiple banners and global discounters
What are some of the best practices you have introduced in Cyprus based on the company’s experiences in Israel and elsewhere?
I believe that the best practice we have introduced to the market is to consistently invest in our employees’ capabilities, starting from attracting the best talents in the market, followed by a robust personal development plan. I strongly believe we have managed to establish the most professional team in Cyprus – without a doubt this has been the key to our success in the Cypriot market over 10 years.
How do you believe the sector in general, and your company in particular, will develop over the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, I expect Diplomat Cyprus to develop like the rest of the developed markets (digitalisation, personalisation and premiumisation). We will continue to invest in our capabilities, to ensure a response to market trends. We will continue to prioritise the capabilities of our employees – the core of our competitive advantage – and continue to grow mainly through mergers and acquisitions (M&As).