In the Western Balkans, BALFIN Group is a significant economic player. How would you comment on its performance in 2022?
BALFIN Group maintained a steady growth throughout 2022, with our banking, real estate and retail industries leading the way, despite the fluctuations on the international markets. Our economic activity increased by 11% as compared to the previous year. We served over 80,000 clients every day, in more than 230 points of sale or offices in all countries where we operate. The main reason for this positive performance is a series of investments made as part of a long-term strategy. We invested about 85 million euro in 2022, mostly in Austria, Switzerland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. Another essential factor for our continued success is our dedicated workforce of over 5,000 professionals spread across ten countries. They play a pivotal role in overcoming challenges and proactively pursuing new opportunities.
How is BALFIN Group’s performance progressing in 2023?
2023 marks a significant milestone for us, as it is the 30th anniversary of BALFIN Group. This year, we anticipate growth across all our companies, and the current figures bolster our confidence in achieving this year’s objectives. Our retail business is experiencing growth through a multi-faceted approach. We’ve expanded our physical presence by adding new points of sale that offer a wider array of products and services, while also increasing the area of our shopping malls. Simultaneously, we are actively transitioning our services into the digital realm. Our shopping malls in Tirana and Skopje continue to witness a consistent year-over-year increase in visitor footfall. Tirana Bank is performing very well this year, consistently exceeding industry benchmarks and demonstrating remarkable financial stability. Tirana Bank is the fastest growing bank in Albania. Our real estate development projects in the Balkan region and Austria are advancing according to schedule, encompassing both residential and commercial properties. We are currently spearheading distinctive initiatives that introduce novel concepts and innovative solutions to cater to our customers’ evolving needs.
BALFIN Group is present in ten countries and in different industries. How would you assess the business environment in the Balkan region?
Although the Balkan region offers a diverse landscape for businesses, each country with its unique opportunities and challenges, the region has been on a collective trajectory for several years, aligning itself with larger economic markets such as the EU. Different countries in the region are progressing at varying speeds, but they are all moving in the same direction.
The region has a significant growth potential due to its strategic location as a gateway between Europe and Asia. The presence of diverse industries, including banking, services, hospitality and tourism, real estate, manufacturing, and technology, reflects its versatility. The region has made substantial strides in improving the regulatory frameworks, in line with EU recommendations, enhancing infrastructure, and attracting foreign investments, making the business environment more conducive to expansion. We can feel it in all the countries where we are present and other countries we are considering entering. The Balkans offer a burgeoning consumer market with a growing middle class, which presents an attractive prospect for industries ranging from retail, real estate to financial services. Moreover, the region’s commitment to infrastructure development, including transportation and energy projects, opens up new avenues for investment and collaboration. For investors, navigating the Balkan business environment successfully requires a tailored approach for each country and building strong relationships with local partners. Our group’s diversified presence across industries and countries positions us well to leverage the opportunities while effectively addressing the challenges that come with operating in this dynamic region.
Could you share some insights into BALFIN Group’s upcoming plans for the near future?
At BALFIN Group, our vision is centered on investment in innovative concepts, the exploration of new projects, and the creation of novel opportunities. We are strategically focused on consolidating our core industries, including retail, real estate, and banking, which have been the cornerstones of our success over the past three decades. Our proven track record as a trusted partner for international companies investing in the Western Balkans gives us the confidence that our future partnerships will prosper, benefiting from our deep regional expertise and extensive network.
One such area of opportunity lies in the premium segment of the tourism and hospitality industry, which remains relatively untapped in some countries from the region. In partnership with global leaders like Marriott and Accor, we are making strategic investments in luxury hotels. Ambitious projects like Green Coast and Vlora Marina are poised to transform and elevate the tourism offerings not only in Albania but across the wider Western Balkans region. Real estate continues to hold a pivotal place in our group’s portfolio and our forward-looking investment strategies. Our companies are at the forefront of pioneering and presenting innovative concepts in residential developments, mixed-use properties, tourist complexes, commercial infrastructure, and hotels. Alongside our ongoing commitments, we are actively exploring future investment opportunities in markets such as Croatia, Greece, and the U.S.
Within the retail sector, we are expanding our network and elevating our digital footprint to address the evolving needs of our customers more effectively, particularly the younger generations. Collaborating closely with our international and regional partners, we aim to introduce fresh brands and innovative services to the countries we are present. Notably, our successful introduction of the retail park concept in Albania is a model we intend to replicate in various cities across Albania and North Macedonia.
Furthermore, Tirana Bank is not only enhancing its digital services but also considering the possibility of expanding its operations into new markets. Our commitment to expanding the bank’s portfolio reflects our proactive approach and willingness to explore new horizons.
We are proactively exploring the opportunity to invest in renewable energy sources, with a specific focus on harnessing solar and wind energy to generate electricity. By considering investments in renewable energy, we aim to contribute to a greener future while simultaneously diversifying our portfolio and seizing opportunities in the evolving energy sector.
As logistics gains increasing prominence in the region, owing to the strategic location of the Balkans, we are actively engaging in collaborations with international partners and aspire to expand our presence significantly. Our aim is to scale up our operations and leverage the strategic advantage of the Balkan region to its fullest potential.
I want to emphasize our enthusiasm for the future of the region and our firm commitment to exploring new horizons and opportunities. At BALFIN Group, our mission is clear: to establish robust companies, foster innovation, promote equal opportunities for all, and make a lasting positive impact on society. We look forward to contributing to the continued growth and prosperity of our region and beyond, in all the ten countries we are present, and are excited about the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.
About BALFIN Group
BALFIN Group is a prominent and highly successful investment conglomerate, with a rich history spanning over three decades, operating primarily in the Western Balkans. It was established in Vienna in 1993 by Mr. Samir Mane and has since expanded its footprint in Austria, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Switzerland, Croatia, the Netherlands, and the United States of America. Diversification is a hallmark of BALFIN Group, with active involvement in nine industries: real estate, wholesale and retail, banking, asset management, hospitality, education, energy, and logistics. The Group’s remarkable journey is powered by the dedication and passion of its approximately 5,000 employees, who have played an instrumental role in shaping its success story over the past 30 years. BALFIN Group’s reputation as a reliable partner is built on conducting international business operations at the highest ethical and professional standards for 30 years. It boasts substantial financial resources, a highly skilled workforce, and a constant commitment to innovation. The Group’s impact extends beyond financial success, as it actively contributes to economic development, job creation, innovation, and community welfare.
Key Facts and Figures:
- Presence across nine diverse industries and in ten countries.
- Total Group Assets to date (including financial institutions): 2.1 bln euro.
- Total Group Capital Investments to date: 819 mln euro.
- A dedicated workforce of over 5,000 individuals.
- Approximately 35,000 beneficiaries from CSR projects annually.
- A robust network comprising over 230 points of sale.
- Daily engagement with 80,000 clients for goods and services.
- Tirana Bank, the fastest growing bank in Albania.
- Over 28 million annual visitors to shopping malls.
- Leading consumer electronics chain in the Western Balkans, with over 70 stores