Biggest Norwegian Companies in the Baltics Share Experience Dealing with COVID-19
For the first time, Executives of the three biggest Norwegian companies operating in the Baltic market – Gjensidige, Orkla, and Møller Baltic Import joined an online discussion this Wednesday, June 17, on Weathering the Crisis, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and government imposed countermeasures. A big thank you goes to speakers our speakers – Marius Jundulas, CEO of Gjensidige Baltic; Kristiina Koel from Orkla Accounting Centre; Justas Nekrošius of Møller Baltic Import and Rasa Zasciurinskaite of COBALT Legal.
From what was discussed, different industries have been impacted in different ways.
While Orkla, which is the leading player in the fast moving consumer goods production in the Nordic and Baltic region, had observed increased demand for food and cleaning products, the confectionary segment has suffered, especially in product categories that cater to tourists. During the State of Emergency, many of company’s employees were working from home, but are starting to return to offices now. Special precautions and strong health security measures have been put in place in all production sites. As a group, Orkla expects to meet the financial targets for this year. Orkla has over 300 local brands with strong positions. They have two factories in Estonia, four in Latvia, and one in Lithuania.
Gjensidige, which is the leading Nordic and Baltic insurance group with more than 200 years history in Scandinavia, reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s feeling of safety and security, where insurance is an important player. Gjensidige Baltic has 420 thousand private and 35 000 corporate clients in the Baltics. During the first few weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, travel insurance was down by 90%, whereas motor insurance was down by 15-25%. The CEO of Gjensidige Baltic explained that the insurance market is starting to pick up again and he advised others that now it is good time to shop for insurance, as insurance companies are better prices for their products.
Møller Baltic Import, the official importer of Audi and Volkswagen in the Baltic region, reports that after having record sales of new cars in 2019, they expected to have another record year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the reality is different now. In mid March the business stopped and in April the new car sales was down by 65%. On a more positive note, the crisis has accelerated changes that the company had planned already for some times, such as introducing 360 virtual showrooms, video trainings, changes in sales and after sales processes etc.
During the discussion, participants commented on use of data analytics in decision making, preparing for the possible second wave and adjusting operations to the situation. When speaking about the leadership skills that were especially important throughout this crisis, ability to make fast and bold decisions, act quickly and communicate efficiently, were mentioned on the top of the list.
The discussion was moderated by Christian Testman, CEO of Ocean Visuals and Chairman of the Norwegian-Estonian Chamber of Commerce. Many thanks to the Norwegian Embassies in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia for their support to the discussion.
If you want to hear the whole discussion, you can find it here.