How did Eczacıbaşı become a global player?
I guess everybody is familiar with the brand Villeroy&Boch, one of the oldest and most well-known brands in the world.
I had the opportunity to visit the Villeroy&Boch factory, the brand that reminds people of quality and aesthetics. The factory is situated at Mettlach, on the Germany-France border. It was founded in 1748. As it can be drawn from its name, with the partnership of the German Boch family and the French Villeroy family, it was able to reach the stage it is at today.
It was impressive to listen to the story of the brand from an eighth generation member of the Boch family, Wendelin Von Boch at a lunch at their family chateau.
The German and French families, after the partnership, strengthened their bonds through marriage in the mid-19th century and have expanded their area of activity.
They have been selling ceramic goods, tiles, glass, tables and bathroom products to the world since 1891.
Ceramic tiles of Villeroy&Boch are in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Istanbul and Jerusalem. Among their customer portfolio are the famous Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the unfortunate Titanic.
When the year 2000 was reached, the brand restricted its area of activity to “bathroom and kitchen” and “tiles.”
Look what Wendelin Von Boch, who is currently the chairman of the supervisory board of Villeroy&Boch, said at this point of the story: “Our capacity was not adequate to open to international markets, to reach developing countries. We knocked on the door of Eczacıbaşı in Turkey. My uncle was a friend of Nejat Eczacıbaşı and I am a close friend of the head of the executive board of Eczacıbaşı Holding, Bülent Eczacıbaşı.”
As you can guess, the Villeroy&Boch family and Eczacıbaşı family, one in Germany, the other in Turkey, have a relationship that goes way back. They celebrate their birthdays together; they plan their holidays together.
Let me mention at this point that the Building Products Division of Eczacıbaşı is market leader in Turkey in bathroom and tile products. They have record-breaking export figures. Its tile production capacity exceeds Villeroy&Boch’s capacity.
In the end, Eczacıbaşı became a partner by buying 51 percent of the “ceramic tiles” business of the famous brand in 2007. After a while, its shares went up to 75 percent.
As Eczacıbaşı CEO Erdal Karamercan especially highlighted, the agreement between the two companies allows that 100 percent of the shares belong to Eczacıbaşı.
Eczacıbaşı has spent 50 million euros to renew the technology at the factory at Mettlach, the one we had the opportunity to visit. They even produce tiles identical to those from the Titanic today at the factory. The digitally printed Villeroy&Boch tiles that are being laid at the moment at the Clock Tower at Mecca are the product of this technological renewal.
Developments in the research and development center at Eczacıbaşı’s Bozüyük plant at the northwestern province of Bilecik are immediately reflected at the factory in Mettlach.
Eczacıbaşı has also integrated two other well-known German brands, the ceramic producer Engers and bathroom furniture producer Burgbad to its brand, becoming one of the rare global players originating from Turkey.