Politicians, business world, rival say farewell to founder of Ülker
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Sabri Ülker is seen working at his humble office at Ülker’s biscuit factory in central Istanbul. PM Erdoğan was among to participants to his funeral. AA photo
Pioneer industrialist and founder of Turkish conglomerate Yıldız Holding Sabri Ülker was laid to rest at a funeral in Istanbul yesterday which was attended by well known politicians and business people.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı, Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım and Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay were among the attendees to the funeral.
Sabri Ülker’s son, Murat Ülker, and grandson Ali Ülker received the condolences.
Murat Ülker today heads Yıldız Holding active in several countries while Ali Ülker is one of the group’s two vice chairpersons along with fellow family member Ali Özokur.
‘A doyen name’
Sabri Ülker had made great contributions to Turkey’s economy, Union of Chamber and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu said in a written statement. “The passing away of our elder brother Sabri Ülker, one of doyen names of our business world, has deeply upset us,” he said, adding that Sabri Ülker’s success in business was a role model for everyone.
Istanbul Chamber of Industry (İSO) Chairman Tanıl Küçük said Sabri Ülker’s death was a big loss for the Turkish industries and the food business in particular.
Chairman of the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD), Nail Olpak, said Sabri Ülker was both a pioneer entrepreneur and a great philanthropist.
Sabri Ülker was also one of the founding members of the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA).
Firuz Kanatlı, the founder of Eti, one of the main domestic rivals of Ülker in biscuit and candy markets, said Sabri Ülker made tough competition.
“I made a friendship with Sabri Ülker, but I have accepted myself as a novice before him. At times Sabri Ülker told me things that could be called secret. He told one of his friends that ‘We are in competition with Firuz Kanatlı for 40 years, but we still keep our friendship. That is something very interesting,’” he said.
Sabri Ülker was a very harsh competitor, said Kanatlı, adding that he had the courage to constantly produce new ideas. “We probably had things in common. I am a very religious man. He was, too, a religious man. We would have conversations on religion,” he said.
Eti and Ülker are rivals not only in Turkey but also in the Russian market, where both are among the leading brands.
Yıldız Holding began in a small factory in Eminönü, the historic trade center of Istanbul in early 1940s. It was transformed from a small factory into an integrated food and beverages group, with success in the fields of foods and non-foods on a national and global level. The group today is active in several fields including information technologies.
Yıldız Holding revenues were recorded at 10.5 billion liras in 2010. The group operates 43 factories in Turkey and nine abroad. It employs a workforce of 24,400 and produces a range of products including biscuits, chocolate, edible oil, dairy products, culinary products, baby food and packaging materials.
Among Yıldız’s foreign investments are Godiva, the Belgian premium chocolate maker based in the United States, Saudi Arabia’s biscuits, chocolate, cakes and wafers producer and seller FMC, Egypt’s Hi Food, Italian food packaging company Nuroll, Romania’s Eurex, Ukrainia’s KBF, Kazakhstan’s Hamle and Pakistan’s UG Food. Ülker’s products are distributed all over the world via independent firms.