The Lithuanians were not even offered snails
Rasa Volungevičienė, the sales manager of “Baltic Snails”, says that after starting its operations in 2011, the company immediately focused on the French market: “Let’s face it, snails are not a common product for Lithuanian tables, so we have been selling abroad from the beginning. Gradually, the scope of the company’s activities expanded, and currently we buy about 750 tons of live grape snails. We make snail meat from them and prepare shells that go to France. There, in the partner companies, the products are prepared for the end user’s table according to the local recipe.”
According to R. Volungevičienė, there are many challenges for business – climate change causes droughts and heats that are not typical for spring, and these negatively affect the ability to buy the required amount of snails.
The company has been solving the labor shortage for some time by bringing in workers not only from Molėtai, but also from the city and district of Utena during the season.
“The current economic situation is also worrying, as it is difficult to predict the prices of energy and the raw materials that depend on it. We use liquefied gas in the production process, so we closely monitor price changes, – the interviewee talks about the difficult period. – However, we have been working with the same partners for many years, who listen to the threats we identify and are ready to find a solution together. So we remain optimistic about the long-term perspective.”
Two months of work is created for the whole year
The legislation of the Republic of Lithuania stipulates that the company can buy live snails only after the beginning of their vegetation period, that is from the beginning of May until the end of June. Therefore, the company has just two months to purchase raw materials, which would be enough for the whole year.
“During this period, we are in dire need of working capital, so we expect the bank’s support every year,” the sales manager of “Baltic Snails” explains the nuances of the operation. – After becoming clients of SME Bank, we appreciated their flexibility and ability to promptly respond to expressed needs. The ability to handle many matters remotely, but also to consult face-to-face if necessary, allows for successful business development.”
According to the SME Bank representative, it is extremely important for a small business to quickly adapt to changing economic conditions, and close partnerships provide flexibility. However, no business is usually complete without bank financing.
“As the prices of energy resources rise rapidly, we see that there is no shortage of challenges for businesses. Managers with many years of experience manage the situation more easily, and are more likely to consult with partners and financial service providers. In a difficult period, I would advise less experienced entrepreneurs to rely on partnerships. In the case of Baltic Snails, the decision to finance the business was not difficult. In addition, we have included business guarantees provided by the European Investment Fund (EIF). We would also look for the best solutions in the case of another business”, says Mantvydas Štareika, head of SME Bank.
SME Bank, a neo-bank focused on the financing of small and medium-sized businesses, provides financing and everyday banking services.
According to M.Štereika, during this difficult period for business, customer applications will, as always, be looked at individually, trying to find the best way of financing, with the help of business guarantees.
“Before laying down your arms, take a look at the alternatives, consult with financial specialists. Perhaps you will find a solution not only to save the business, but to grow it. In a recent survey, executives said they were not currently looking to invest in the business. However, it is a mistake to think that simply standing still will maintain your competitive advantage. I’d rather take strict financial discipline and move forward at least in small steps,” the head of the bank is convinced.