December 19, 2018
Jumbo growth in the Balkans and not only, Papajorgji explains the journey towards the “Made in Albania” success

Organized retail is a sector that is recognizing continuous development in the region and beyond. What we are lacking is time, so we all try to focus on one-stop shops.

So we can buy a variety of products in one place. Jumbo stores are embraced quickly by the consumer, certainly also because of the wide products range that they offer and the economic prices.

Since Balfin Group brought the first Jumbo shop in Albania, the biggest toys shop in the Balkans has made tremendous steps forward, not just in Albania but also outside its borders.

JUMBO was initially opened in November 2011 at the largest commercial center in Albania, TEG and a year later, on November 27, 2012, in QTU Shopping Mall.

Considering the great success of retail store chains in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania etc., JUMBO came as a demand of the Albanian market and was immediately embraced by the domestic market.

JUMBO’s strongest point, its unique selling proposition in the market is the variety of products for different categories, since Jumbo is for the whole family. The wide range of products, quality and economic prices have made it the market leader in the category of children toys and not only.

In more details, in JUMBO the variety goes from children’s toys and sports articles to gardening, clothing, textiles and decor, cleaning and kitchen accessories, cure accessories, baby products, car accessories, office and school supplies , as well as accessories for parties and pets.

Today, the Albanian company counts 14 stores in three different countries of the region: respectively 6 in Kosovo, 5 in Albania and 3 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jumbo’s Executive Director Toljan Papajorgji reveals to us, through an interview, the secrets of this “Made in Albania” success.

  • How has Jumbo’s experience in Albania influenced the activity in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina?
  • With the activity expansion in markets outside the borders of Albania, we as Jumbo discovered the culture and the way of working in Kosovo, where the organized retail goods sector, is more developed than in Albania, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So the consumer in these two countries has the retail culture, thus the first steps of doing business there were somewhat easier than in Albania.
  • Meanwhile in Albania, retail as a sector is relatively young and Balfin Group as the largest and most innovative group in the country and in the region has played an important role in the development of this sector. Anyway, the enlargement teaches you to adapt to the rules of the country where you are investing, as in the Bosnia and Herzegovina case, which operates very differently from Albania in terms of fiscal legislation. But we had clear ideas from the beginning, we knew what we wanted to do, we needed up to 4,000 sqm of space with enough parking spaces and of course the location of the shop should have been in an easily accessible area for the customer. Currently in less than 2 years, Jumbo in Bosnia and Herzegovina has opened three stores while three others will be opened during 2019. Meanwhile in Kosovo we count six JUMBO stores opened in 4 years. The expansion in these two countries was quite interesting and showed us another panorama of the Western Balkans. Being a successful company in Albania, motivates you to take successful steps in the region as well.
  • How has Jumbo adapted the Bosnian and Kosovo market?
    • Since we are talking about two Balkan countries, it was not that difficult to adapt, much less in Kosovo, where Jumbo is very well received and has continuous demand for expansion in other Bosnian and Kosovo cities. Offering European-style and economical products, suitable for everyone, did make us succeed and grow more and more each year. Our competitors in Bosnia are already following the Jumbos steps, starting with the way of how seasonal and category products are displayed.
  • Is there a domestic Jumbo competitor in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina?
    • As I mentioned above, Jumbo has competition in Bosnia and Herzegovina who offer products alike Jumbo’s, but not covering the whole product range. Jumbo offers products such as: toys, stationery, home décor, gardening, sports and seasonal products. We’ve learned a lot from our competition and track how they operate in the market and I would also add that they copy well, which makes us work harder with the staff who are specialized in marketing and merchandising, to bring innovation to the customer and to be as attractive as possible in their eyes.
  • During 2018, how many new stores have Jumbo opened inside and outside of Albania?
    • 2018 was the year of Jumbo, about 7 years after Jumbo became part of Balfin Group, it got expanded with 3 new stores in Albania, respectively in Fier, Durrës and Shkodra. Meanwhile in Kosovo, we are present since 2014 and in 2018 we opened two new stores in: Ferizaj and Mitrovica, bringing the number of shops to 6. While in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are present for 1 year and a half now and on 7 December 2018, we opened the first store in Mostar and the third for Bosnia.
  • How did Jumbos have to adapt, as you expanded to subsidiaries in smaller cities?
    • We continue to have constant demand from every corner of Albania for Jumbo and it is not that difficult to adapt, the difficulty lies in the location, as Jumbo as a store requires relatively large spaces. We have tried to include in every store outside of Tirana all the Jumbo categories and products that Jumbo currently has in Tirana.
  • Has the challenge of doing business in markets like Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina been successful?
    • We can say that yes, as our expansion plan will continue in the upcoming years, both within and outside the borders of Albania, although in Europe and beyond the businesses of different fields are facing difficulties, we proudly say that we are growing every year and more.
  • What are Jumbos expansion plans for 2019, inside and outside of Albania?
    • During the next year, Jumbo will open three new stores in Albania, respectively in the cities of Korca, Vlora and Elbasan, 1 in Kosovo and three new stores in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 2019 innovation for Jumbo is that it will invest in two new markets, namely in Montenegro and Moldova.
  • How many employees does the Kid Zone company counts, inside and outside of Albania?
  • Currently 600 Kid Zone employees work in and out of Albania, but this number will continue to grow with the opening of new stores. I believe that by the end of 2019 Jumbo will reach a figure of about 1000 employees in the region and Moldova.

Facts and Figures:

No. of Jumbos employees in Albania: 200

No. of stores: 14

Total No. of employees: 600

No. of States where it operates: 3

Company growth in percentage, last year: 24%

The number of new stores foreseen on 2019: 9

State with the most Jumbo shops: Kosovo, 6 stores

Number of products traded: 24 350

Type of products: Home decor, textile, toys, stationery, gardening, sports and seasonal products.