Making a dream come true

Making a dream come true

Because it is the 500th anniversary of the famous cartographer-seaman from Ottoman-era Piri Reis, this year has been declared the “Year of Piri Reis” by UNESCO. 

I was in Rome this weekend for an event about the Piri Reis year. 

I had the opportunity to see the works of 13 ceramic artists inspired by Piri Reis maps at Palazzo Lancelotti in Rome. The exhibition was organized with the support of Kale Group, one of the outstanding actors in the Turkish ceramic sector. 

This exhibition is organized in Rome for its first international appearance for more than one reason. 

First, Piri Reis, during the long years he has spent at the Mediterranean shores, drew 46 maps of Italy. He was the sailor who knew the Italian coasts the best in his era. 

Second, the Head of the Executive Committee of Kale Group Zeynep Bodur Okyay is also the head of the Turkish-Italian Business Council. She has been striving to develop commercial relations with Italy for years. Consequently, it is only natural that she has brought the exhibition they have been sponsoring to Rome first. 

Besides, the Kale Group bought a leading ceramic company in Italy, Fincuoghi, more than two years ago, for 25 million euros. 

Right at this point, I want to quote Zeynep Bodur Okyay from her opening speech at the Palazzo Lancelotti:

“It was only two or three years ago that it was only a dream for a Turkish firm to buy a brand in Italy, a place that is known as the Mecca of ceramics and design and to start producing here, to incorporate with the European and the world’s ceramics sector.” 

“With the purchase we did in 2011, we have made a dream come true.” 

While I was listening to Zeynep Bodur Okyay, I quickly thought this: Kale Group is not the only Turkish firm that was able to make its dream come true. 

When, some time ago, the Koç Group bought a leading brand in Germany, Grundig, when Ülker Group bought the world’s most known chocolate brand Godiva or when Eczacıbaşı Group bought 75 percent of again famous Villeroy Boch brand’s floor ceramics, they were all “realizing a dream.” 

Truly, nobody would have thought 10 or 15 years ago that a Turkish firm would be able to buy a famous European brand. Indeed, we have to accept the share of the economic crisis dominating Europe in these Turkish firms’ purchases. 

Spain and Italy are the most affected countries from this crisis.

The day I came back from Rome, I saw a news story in the paper, a new one on “making a dream come true.” 

This time it was one of the leading firms in the food sector, the Toksöz Group buying the third largest fruit juice producer in Europe, the Spanish Zumos Palma. 

The Toksöz Group, the annual turnover of which reaches 450 million euros, owns the brands Tadelle, Sagra and Sarelle, which children in Turkey know only too well. The Toksöz Group, at the beginning of summer, also incorporated the Italian chocolate brand Pernigotti.

The Toksöz Group that has bought Zumos Palma from the Italian family company Pascual Group is aiming to sail to new markets with these new purchases.

Meanwhile, there is the other side of the medallion. 

While some Turkish firms are making their dreams come true, some others look for a remedy in foreigners. As a matter of fact, according to recent news, Turkey’s leading milk products company, Yörsan has sold 80 percent of its shares to Abraaj Capital based in Dubai.