Fatih Özdemir travels a lot to Africa and the Middle East, where most of his customers are. These are mainly wholesalers and hotels who buy furniture in bulk. In 2017, Özdemir settled on Bremen as the preferred location for his company headquarters, and in early 2018, Brefeo Hanse GmbH opened its office in Bremen Airport-City. The furniture is manufactured in Turkey and delivered directly from there to the customer. Özdemir’s furniture is now set to come to Bremen, too.
Fatih Özdemir was born in 1981 in Augsburg, but moved to live with his grandparents in Turkey when he was four. He studied European and International Relations in Ankara and obtained a master’s degree in 2003. After graduating, Özdemir worked at Akbank in Istanbul, before moving to work in customer relations at Türkiye Finans Participation Bank for two years. “That’s when I realised that nine-to-five jobs are not for me. I needed to get out and do something entirely different,” Özdemir says.
In 2007, he joined a furniture company with a strong customer base in Africa. “The market there is much larger than you might think. To keep the transport costs per item to a minimum, we sold the furniture to wholesalers and hotels.” Business was mainly conducted through personal contacts, which is why Özdemir travelled to Africa a lot, to countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. There and at trade fairs, he gradually built up a network of contacts, including in China and the Middle East. “Business was good, but I wanted to stand on my own two feet and no longer be an employee.”
A step towards independence
In 2009, Özdemir founded the Roveyda Group based in Bursa, around 240 kilometres south of Istanbul. He used his contacts in Africa and sold furniture made by a number of Turkish manufacturers. “Our catalogue was extensive, but we only manufactured to order and then shipped the items in containers,” says Özdemir. “My customers would recommend me to others, and I now have long-standing friendships with many wholesalers.” He also exported to Angola, Libya and Oman, and business was booming. “But it was quite stressful. Some containers held up to 250 items, and it was vital that all the lists and numbers were correct.”