Could you introduce yourself and your job?
Our Trading department is one of the four sectorial poles of Confluences. We do import, distribute and install French construction products in Cambodia. This means we are working on a day-to-day basis with architects, engineers, constructors but also real estate developers to implement our portfolio of equipment into their project scope. We are targeting all kind of projects: schools, hospitals, condominiums, gas station and even churches!
Our portfolio counts at the moment the following brands: Gerflor (vinyl flooring), Desautel (fire protection), Labaronne Citaf (flexible tanks) and Sodex (sports equipment). All these brands are French and have in common to be leaders in their respective markets with a strong focus on quality of their products and services. And this is what we are interested in, developing this niche market in Cambodia, it can be more rewardable, plus we have little competition.
And if for now we are working exclusively with French manufacturers, we are very open for more partnerships, as long as we do keep our highly standardized and quality positioning.
What are the challenges of your market?
The construction market is very dynamic in Cambodia – you just need to look up to realize it. But at the same time, and for quite sometimes, the Chinese have been taking it over. We are facing their competition on all our range of products, they are very aggressive on pricing, and that does influence the market, price-concern is always what most of our prospects are talking first.
Thus, our main task for now is to sensitize our prospects and clients to long-term cost-savings when they choose high quality products. It does involve the product lifetime itself but also the costs that you have to face when you have to renew your equipment or close your premises for renovation.
And I have to say that this is working. At the beginning we were mostly solicited for international projects such as the Pasteur Institute, Decathlon or the Heineken factory, but lately, and we are very enthusiastic about it, we are now working directly with local players who are very concerned about the final quality of their projects.
Which advice would you give to equipment manufacturers who are interested in the Cambodian market?
They need to study carefully the market and its needs. Yes, this market is very dynamic, but the products and the services offered need to fit with the local demand. Some are coming with “copy and paste” solutions which work well in Europe and elsewhere, but not here, Cambodia is a very specific market.
Which future do you envision for Confluences?
Till now Confluences has been successfully following business opportunities. Our four departments are very complementary, and if you were staying with us at our incubator, you could see the synergies between our different teams but also the dozen companies that have been staying with us, or that our consulting department is accompanying into the market. We benefit for our mutual networking and experiences. Our working environment is very dynamic, even if of course we are all focusing first on our own activity and line of business.
In the long run, I think Confluences can grow more. The actual model has been proved workable and profitable, but we have to acknowledge that our office space is getting small. Our trading team is for instance looking to get a proper showroom to expose our range of products, and better serve our clients. I’m sure sooner or later we will get it if we are successful in bringing more projects to the company. Another development is that we have to go beyond Phnom Penh, Siem Reap is a market we have been exploring for quite a while and I know that our management is also aiming at neighbor countries, so let’s see what happens next.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Confluences is very exposed, positively exposed in the Cambodian market. Our team is young and ambitious, we are working daily with regional companies, partners and clients, this should lead each of us to working or business opportunities.
As for myself, I do not exclude the possibility to get a more regional position. Doing so, in a way, I will contribute to the regional influences of our #TeamConfluences in Asia.