"It was a difficult market for us, even before the conflict", says the Wrapstyle CEO regarding leaving the Russian market. Now the Wrapstyle shines in Dubai.
They make design wraps for cars, their headquarters are in Zlín, but they have branches worldwide, including Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Austria. We talked with the CEO of WrapStyle, Martin Turecek, about expansion abroad, the unique community of car lovers, and future trends in this business.
They are continuously expanding their business abroad and have tried it in Russia. But the conflict in Ukraine put an end to everything. "Unfortunately or for God's sake," states Martin Turecek realistically, "that market was not at all interesting for us." According to him, Russia is a rather specific country. "The problems started before the war," explains Turecek, "we were operating in Ufa, and that is a city covered in snow most of the year, which is not very good for our business."
On the other hand, the company from Zlin is doing well in the Middle East. According to Martin Turecek, this is due to the fact that he sees us as a representative of the developed West. "It started when we opened a branch in Dubai in 2012. Everyone who lives in the Middle East, be it Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or even Qatar, goes there, and what they see in the Arab metropolis, they try to transfer to their cities. They are copying what is happening in Dubai."
Expanding to the US is more complicated. "We would like to enter the American market," agrees Turecek. "But we choose carefully who we work with. It would be best if someone is found to take it on as a master franchise. Then we wouldn't have to deal with individual states and cities separately."
Car wrapping originated in Germany
When the term master franchise was mentioned, it would probably be a good idea to explain what it is. Simply put, it is a situation where someone buys a license for the entire country and gradually develops branches there. In the confusing situation surrounding franchises, many people still find it difficult to navigate and confuse concepts. For example, the mistake that car wrapping was invented in the USA also got into circulation. "From the beginning, we claim that it originated in Europe," Turecek testifies, "in Germany, where they first made wraps for taxis. And over time, the business of dressing up taxis turned into designer decals."
Today, however, do not look for the imaginary epicentre of business in our western neighbours. "I dare to say that we are number one on the market," confidently declares the representative of the company WrapStyle. "No company doing business on a similar scale has franchises focused specifically on car decals. The business is so complicated that not many people get into it; it's not like a fast food franchise or a coffee shop."
The entrepreneurial story of WrapStyle is entirely different from the traditional story of a local company that made its way into the world. We returned to the Czech Republic only later, and only then did they begin to focus more on it." They were led to this by a relatively simple, but, according to Turecek, the fundamental reason: "We discovered that business in the world is not so easy to manage. You don't manage it if you're not directly in a specific country." And since they've been managing everything from Zlin since then, they realized at WrapStyle that they know business, culture and the market in general best in the Czech Republic. "We want to continue to focus on it here and strengthen our position," Turecek doubts no one.
Cars will be produced in only two colours
And what about the crisis that the automotive industry is currently going through, which has somehow affected WrapStyle as well? "Even during covid, we were worried about what would happen if it affected us," answers Martin Turecek honestly. "But it was just the opposite; people weren't allowed to travel or spend money in shops, but they could make themselves happy with, for example, a nice wrap of their car." In addition, they managed to start during the covid online, mainly in the form of an e-shop with design.
And even though new car sales are objectively declining, WrapStyle is, on the contrary, growing. Maybe also because people don't want to buy new cars but prefer to modify older ones. "It's a specific group of people; we call them 'car enthusiasts'," Turecek explains. "If they don't have the money for a new car, at least they wrap their car and have some change."
The car company Tesla gives us an insight into how the situation in this segment may continue to develop. It only offers two base colours. On the one hand, it is economically beneficial for them; on the other hand, it is also generally ecological. Other manufacturers may soon adopt a similar policy. "It already happens today that car dealerships order cars in black because they know they will call us," Martin Turecek reveals something from behind the scenes of the business. "We can change the colour in any way. And we also add a protective film that protects the paint from damage."
Ambition to beat the world record
According to a representative of WrapStyle, last year, we turned out well for their company. "We observe continuous growth; we do business rather conservatively, so we don't have any big jumps or dips. We don't even invest wildly; we don't borrow money from banks," Martin Turecek explains the company's philosophy. That is also why they have been showing a 15-20% increase in turnover for ten years. And how do they achieve this? "We're investing money," we get a lapidary answer. "We have two new startups that we are trying to develop. It complements nicely. When you have a downturn in one business, another takes over."
But that's not all. For this year, WrapStyle would like to focus more on design. "What makes us different from the competition and what makes us stand out is the design studio," says Turecek, calculating the strengths of his own company. "We do special proposals, design projects and that's what we want to focus on." However, the customer is not only interested in design, he also wants to have the car back as soon as possible. "This year, we would like to break the world record for the speed of wrapping cars," the Zlin company does not set small goals. "We regularly place in good positions at competitions in America. We will always win Europe, but we haven't conquered the Americans yet."
Get a wrap in a few clicks
Virtual reality and car decals, how do they go together? One day it might work well, but the time is not yet ripe. "There are many wrapping companies around the world," Martin Turecek begins a little broadly. "But few of them have a design studio. It is a bit of a special field. It's not like designing flyers or websites. Cars have a shape that you have to adapt to. And so for that job, you need people who like cars and are designers at the same time. There are few good ones worldwide."
That's why WrapStyle came up with a project in which they adapted their designs to the online environment. "So that companies that don't have design studios and designers can buy them and then wrap them on themselves." With that, of course, comes the need to visualize the design of the car. And so, the Zlín company developed a configurator that will help people imagine what the car will look like. From there, it's just a step to virtual reality... "We've been thinking about this idea for some time. We can already create virtual reality for various projects, but in our opinion, its moments are yet to come," Turecek is clear.
For now, therefore, you can only see the designs from WrapStyle in virtual reality at trade fairs. According to Turecek, cars are also fun. He says, "We want to get the emotion out there. For us, it's not a problem if a police car pulls up or a DJ plays in the background when we're showing a customer a design wrap in virtual reality." But it doesn't end there. A virtual city is already being created, where wrapped cars should move around and, above all, people can meet each other. Apparently, even the gaming industry does not leave the Zlin company alone, and they consider it as a possible field for expanding their activities...
"It's a lot of science fiction, but ten years ago, we also didn't expect that our business would work like this and that we would move in virtual environments," says Turecek about these ambitions. However, it is not only in virtual reality that a person can already feel like he is in a science fiction movie. "A month and a half ago, the BMW concept was presented in Las Vegas at the fair, where the car is covered with a special foil that functions as an LCD display. And that's exactly what we want. I.e. that one day, you will wrap a car and then use the application to place any design on it, share statuses on social networks, etc. In the afternoon, for example, you can easily drive in a red car, and in the morning, you will drive out with a company wrap or some advertisement."
Chinese market? Maybe we're already there, but we don't know it.
China is a huge market, but also a country with cheap labour and "smart" technologies capable of copying basically anything. "WrapStyle may be already there, and we don't know about it," realizes Turecek. "China is the market we do not know how to do. It's a completely different world. We can't go there alone. But we would definitely like to expand in this direction as well, but it is mainly a question of money and perhaps also of chance."
What does a typical WrapStyle customer look like? A more affluent person who owns several sports cars, or is he the owner of one, not a truck? "It sort of profiles itself. The location often determines it. We try to occupy metropolises, to be as close as possible to customers - ideally in the centre, on some main street, so that we can be seen. Of course, the requirements for space depend on this, but also the high rent because we are trying to provide a slightly different service."
And that brings us back to "car owners". "It's a community where it doesn't matter if you have a car for 5 million or half a million," suggests the profile of Turecek's potential customers. "The desire to be different and make a different label is there. People with ordinary cars usually don't come to us because they feel it's expensive here. But it's not always like that. We also make guys who save up for the wrap. So we don't want to profile ourselves completely, but once we just said to ourselves that we will be a premium brand."