From Prague to Budapest: Seeing Opportunities in Bridge Brands
Czech investor Michal Mička, CEO of C2H Equity a.s., has been looking into opportunities in the Hungarian market. The Budapest Business Journal spoke to him about what he found here, and why he has started looking over the borders.
BBJ: You recently made a trip to Budapest to look at investment possibilities. Was it a success?
Michal Mička: Yes, the trip was a success; I found that the Hungarian market has a lot of potential, especially within the bridge brand sector. Above all, we wanted to understand the Hungarian market. For example, their shopping centers are much smaller than in Czech Republic, and the same goes for the competition. In C2H, we will be reviewing the market in more detail to ensure that once we enter it, we have the right strategy in place to deliver results like we are delivering on the Czech market.BBJ: Are you open to any opportunity that presents itself, or did you have specific target markets in mind?
MM: In C2H, we are interested in opportunities within the Hungarian market and we are looking for grade-A locations to support and strengthen our retail umbrella. We feel that the [fashion] bridge brand sector is missing within the market, and this would be a great opportunity to take up. Specifically, we set ourselves a goal to localize suitable free business units in shopping centers to expand into. Not just for [fashion brands] Pietro Filipi and Kara, but also for other big brands, of which we have become the main franchise holder in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.BBJ: Why make the trip now?
MM: As part of C2H strategy we are reviewing our five-year strategic plan and we feel that Hungary has a lot to offer, as it becomes a part of our development plan. What is more, the Hungarian market is growing faster than the Czech or Slovak markets, and it is not far away. The expansion is therefore a logical outcome of our long-term plan.BBJ: How reliant are you on market analysis, and how important is it to get a personal feel through a visit?
MM: The analysis really helps me understand the market, but you can’t understand a market properly until you see it with your own eyes. Watching people shop, observing the traffic flow, seeing how shopping malls are laid out… Even such detail of people’s eating habits gives you a totally different view of a market. As a business we conduct a careful research on each market to understand how to enter the market correctly and successfully.BBJ: You started out in your native Czech market. How does do you think it compares with Hungary?
MM: When it comes to fashion, the Czech market has progressed in the last few years; I feel that progress was quicker than in Hungary. I feel that the competition has strengthened in the Czech Republic, especially in Prague and we in C2H have been able to keep up with the trends. When visiting Budapest, I personally feel that the time has come to bring the changes we have adapted in Prague to the market very soon.BBJ: Beyond following up on your business trip, what is in the immediate and mid-term future?
MM: As I mentioned earlier, C2H is reviewing its five-year strategic plan and in a short period of time we will start exploring new markets to expand into in the mid- and long-term. The goal is to create a retail umbrella for C2H and to make it strong player within CEE over the next few years.
Prague-based investor Michal Mička (31) is the majority owner of Czech fashion companies Pietro Filipi and Kara. He is also behind several startups, for example Liftago (ride hailing service), Favorit (bespoke bicycles), Flatio (accommodation-finding service for CEE, including Budapest) and Shopsys (B2B and B2C e-Shop development).
Mička is also a founder and owner of investment company C2H Equity a.s., established as a joint-stock company on August 18, 2017, and which covers activities within private equity, venture capital and real estate. His main idea is to invest into companies which offer interesting opportunities and potential to multiply invested capital. According to Mička, the quality of people is a key for every successful investment.
Having already invested what he says is tens of millions of euros in Czech Republic, he now aims to broaden his portfolio in CEE region, including Hungary.
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