Could we briefly get to know you?
I was born in 1959 in Ardahan to a family that comes from Hopa. In order, I graduated from the Erenköy Elementary School, Fındıklı Middle School, Kabataş High School for Boys and METU Faculty of Architecture. I entered the workforce while I was still in school by working at my father’s company, which operated in the import and wholesale trade of auto spare parts. Since 1983, I have served as an Executive Board Member and General Manager at Vatan Computer. I live with my 2 daughters.
Could you tell us about Vatan Computer?
Vatan Computer was founded in 1983 in Taksim Elmadağ as Turkey’s first computer store. Vatan Computer’s Chairman of the Board Nuri Vatan purchased a computer on the recommendation of a computer manufacturer customer who visited Vatan’s automotive firm, which was his first job. Vatan said, “Even if it is a mistake, we need to enter this market as soon as possible and use computers.” After that, the foundations were laid for Turkey’s first computer store. After that, Vatan Computer’s General Manager Hasan Vatan consolidated three separate computer programmes into one programme, which got the attention of the producing firm. When the firm selling these programmes also expressed their desire to do so, Vatan Computer entered the market. Today, the company brings together leading global brands to offer a wide range of products for technology fans. After our Elmadağ store, we opened Topkapı Hiperstore, our first hiperstore exceeding 1000 square metres in area, amidst the economic crisis in 2002.
How do you view the state of affairs in your sector? What does the national landscape tell us?
The retail technology sector is one of the most competitive sectors. When you add in high expenses, the future of the sector does not appear to be too bright. Some of our competitors have huge losses. For instance, when you enter the information society services section on the website of one of our international competitors, you can see that their revenues of 382,555,000 TL comes down to 67,868,600 TL when you factor in losses. That means they have losses of 314,681,400 TL… We, on the other hand, continue our growth as the only profitable company thanks to our low expenses.
Are there other factors that help you stand out among the competition or beat the leading players in the market?
No, our most important tool is really our low expenses. While the rate of our competitors’ store rent to their total sales is around 5.5%, we keep this rate at around 1.5%.
Do you have any plans to open stores abroad?
At the moment, we do not.
Could you tell us about your investments towards the future?
For a while we were going into retailing fast. Now, we are only considering opening a new store if it is in the right location with the right rent.
You offer online sales. When you compare the sales figures from online and in-store, what is the ratio?
The ratio of our online sales to our total sales is still low. Actually, we have an interesting situation here. Our online store gets much more visitors than all of our competitors. In terms of pricing policy, if any of our competitors offer a special price, we instantly respond. In spite of this, we are able to make sales for lower amounts than those announced by our competitors for their online channels. Our competitors are more than likely making other sales online. Vatan is a family-owned company. We know that family-owned companies that institutionalise and establish a specific system can be even more long lasting than empires. What is your take on this? If institutionalisation is used for the sake of transparency and to bring a definition to each job, we already provide these. Other than that, I am against the idea of institutionalisation.
How do you like technology?
As someone who created Turkey’s first integrated commercial programme, I do not think that I use technology to its fullest extent at the moment.
Do you have hobbies outside of work?
I have some nice hobbies not outside of work but as part of my work. In the past, we had a television show called Silicon Valley. I also organise Vat The Fest Notebook festivals each year. This year, we held a Technology Queen contest. These make our work more enjoyable.
What advice would you give to young people who are embarking on a career?
There are a great deal of opportunities around. I would recommend that they pay attention to these and use them in both their careers and their lives.