Zeynep Bodur Okyay

Kale Group, a Turkey-based ceramic products manufacturer with the brands Kale, Çanakkale Seramik, Kalebodur and Kalekim, recently celebrated its 53rd anniversary at the annual Ceramic Festival at the Kaleseramik Plants in the Çan District of Çanakkale, Turkey. The event drew local dignitaries including the State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek, State Minister Faruk Nafiz Özak, Çanakkale Governor Abdülkadir Atalık, Çan Mayor Abdurrahman Kuzu, and Çan Governor Hasan Gözen.

In her speech, Kale Group Chairwoman Zeynep Bodur Okyay talked about Kale Group's operations in the wake of the difficult economy. “During this time, the solidarity and cooperation we have developed with our employees, retailers, suppliers, or in short, our long term business partners has helped us to stand resolutely. Thanks to this, we have become a company that weathered the crisis without being harmed in a sector that suffered heavy shocks. I extend my gratitude to our employees, retailers and business partners who have not spared their support during this time.”

“We focused particularly on productivity and increased our investments to this end, and did not allow the crisis to halt our half-a-century old enthusiasm," she added.

Okyay said the company has invested heavily in environmental and recycling projects. “Environmental gains have been obtained alongside the financial gains ... As a result of the introduced improvements, 10 percent savings in unit natural gas consumption, 7 percent in unit electricity consumption, 19 percent in water consumption and 37 percent in packaging materials have been realized.”

She also said that the company has grown. “As Kale Group we began 2009 with cautious budgets. We adopted conservative growth figures in line with the Government’s Medium Term Program. But we began to get the results of our efficiency policy in a short time during this period and we grew by around 30 percent.”

Okyay noted that Kaleseramik increased its market share from 26 to 30 percent in the Turkish construction sector, which shrank by 8 percent in 2008 and by 16.1 percent in 2009. "By increasing its market share by 30 points particularly in the upper segment group of floor and wall ceramic tiles and porcelain, our company has become a leader with over 60 percent market share in this segment. Looking from the profit prospective, we also gladly notice that we have recorded a performance way above our targets.”

Ibrahim Bodur

“As Kale Group we achieved a 30 percent turnover increase in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period last year. Compared again to the same period, we had a 50 percent increase in gross profits. Stated briefly, we increased our volume and profitability during the first 6 months of 2010. The sum of the investments to be carried out within 2010 will reach the 27 million dollar mark.”

Okyay also discussed the company's growth strategy. “We signed cooperation agreements with important companies that distribute in 17 countries around the globe. Thanks to our growth strategy during this troublesome period and our design-centered high value added product portfolio, we have managed to increase our average prices in all export markets, particularly in the European markets. We have opened and are continuing to open showrooms in line with our philosophy where 100 percent Kale products are sold in markets of critical importance such as Tripoli, Ashkhabad, Erbil, Beirut, Skopje and Kocin in India. We are increasing our sales of the product range in the upper segment across a geography stretching from Pakistan to Australia. In the near term, we are planning to make our target of becoming a regional leader more dynamic by opening new franchises.”

Following Okyay's presentation, Kale Group Honorary Chairman and Founding Executive Director Dr. H. İbrahim Bodur shared his memories about the struggles and circumstances in establishing the ceramic plant in 1957. Bodur said that he was happy with the growth of Çan District in relation to the plant. State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Çiçek thanked Bodur and Kale Group for providing work opportunities to the unemployed throughout the years.

Gifts were presented to employees who had completed from 5 to 50 years of service with the company, followed by lunch at the plants' poolside facilities.