The founder of Koç Group, Mr. Vehbi Koç’s observations during his visit to Japan initiated the foundation of an export company, namely Ram.
The general trade companies or “sogo shosha”s as they are named in Japan, attracted Mr. Vehbi Koç’s attention since they had a great share in Japan’s economic growth with their large budget figures.
On his return to Turkey, Mr. Vehbi Koç decided that a company with export and import related operations would be a great asset for the Koç Group.
The presence of such a company would be more profitable alternative and had more chance of success than each of the Group’s companies directing their individual export efforts.
Taking those facts into consideration, in November 16, 1970 Ram Foreign Trade Inc. has been founded.
The 1970’s, when Ram was founded, were the period in which the import substitution has been supported by the government rather than the export. In parallel with Turkey’s economic advancement, Ram achieved great progress and healthy growth by applying the Japanese model for the export organization of the Koç Group products.
In that period, the company was conducting the foreign marketing activities of the products belonging to the Koç Group companies, as well as the various other products which were going to be exported from Turkey. Ram also provided marketing studies about the most proper export opportunities and informed the firms accordingly.
The company was marketing several products both from and outside of the Group, building up connections with markets all over the world and creating new opportunities especially in the peripheral markets.
In 1979 the focus of the marketing researches turned to the Middle-East countries and as a result, the market shares were increased and the penetration to the new markets has been achieved.
Moreover, Ram involved for the first time in the fruit, vegetable, grain and pulse business and the activities have been rapidly expanded as a consequence.
The turn of the Eighties proved that Mr. Vehbi Koç’s foresight was right as other Turkish foreign trade firms as well adopted the Japanese model. The importance of export for the economic growth was realized and series of measures were taken to support and increase the export. During 1980’s, Ram, with its diverse product range, positioned itself as the leader among others. The amount of Turkish export which was 2.5 billion USD in 1970’s, reached to 10-12 billion USD in 1980’s.
The company achieved a significant stage of development; it increased the export of the automotive and industrial products, textile and ready-wear, fresh fruit-vegetable and dried foods as well as it began to export meat.
The meat export gained a significant place and Ram, exporting both the Koç Group’s and non-Koç Group’s products, positioned itself as a leading company among the other export companies in Turkey.
The market shares have been raised and product range were diversified by exporting textile products to USA and iron and steel products to Iran. Moreover, there were attempts to overcome credit limitations by providing financial opportunities developed for the producers.
Iran Office was established in 1983.
Ram became a Foreign Trade Capital Company in 1984.
In 1984, with the government’s decision claiming that the importation from the Comecon countries could only be conducted by the Foreign Trade Capital Firms whose revenues exceeded 50 million USD, Ram being included in that category of firms, established a Comecon import-export department and began its import activities from those countries.
Algeria Office was established in 1984 .
The exports from the non-Koç group firms have been reduced and the company realised only the export of the products whose marketing were also conducted by Ram. Besides, the revenue of the Company’s from production/trade and the range of its products have been increased and for the first time the Company has been involved in the transit trade.
1986 was the year of regression in the exports all over Turkey. Turkey’s export decreased from 7.9 billion USD to 7.4 billion USD in 1985. In the first half of the year, Ram also has been influenced by this regression. At the beginning of 1986, 60% of the Ram’s total revenue was composed of the exports to the countries where bilateral agreements were existing between the governments and 40% of only exports to Iraq-Iran.
Due to the fact that the export to Iraq was stopped because of the failure in renewing the agreement with that country and that Iran’s business focus turned to the war equipments, arms and ammunitions, the revenue of Ram was affected negatively. Therefore, the decision to shift the focus of exportation to the free-market countries has been taken, especially concentration was given to the USA, Europe and Comecon countries. Within Europe, the exports to England, Germany and Italy were increased and in the same year, besides meat and dried food export, the timber export also reached to significant amounts.
The export volume in 1987 was increased in general, and it was a very successful year for Ram in terms of profitability and turnover. The amount of the exportation which was 7.4 billion USD in 1986 reached to 10.4 billion USD in 1987. The turnover of the Ram’s export increased by 48% and reached to 268 million USD and its import to 109 million USD. In 1987, 70% of the company’s turnover, concentrated mostly on the Western countries, was achieved with free currency. Meat and timber exports continued increasingly as compared with the previous year.
Hungary Office was established in late 1987.
Ram had the first place among other Foreign Trade Capital Companies with its turnover of 492 million USD. In 1988, a year when the subsidies given for the export was decreased, the export to the Iraq was stopped, the costs and financial expenses were much increased because of the inflation, the profitability of the company was not so much compared to this 1.000 billion TL turnover.
Ram gained again the first place among the Foreign Trade Capital Companies with her export of 503 million USD. 1989 had been a successful year for the Company.
Tofaş brand police cars were sold to Azerbaijan police department in 1989.
By the 90’s, the Japanese model was abandoned and the manufacturer supporting model was developed as a result of changing government policies. As a result of such changes, most of the foreign trade companies went out of business while Ram continued its progress towards her target. In that period, Ram gave importance also to the other companies’ products beside the ones of the Koç Group companies’.
In spite of the fact that, in 1992 during which export incentives were cancelled, the foreign trade activities with the potential countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria have been minimized, Ram intended to prevent the negative effects and face the minimum losses with the administrative and fiscal precautions applied through restructuring. The turnover of the company in 1992 was 389 million USD.
Truck trailers and semi-trailers to carry cottons have been produced and exported to Turkmenistan upon specific demand. Although the negative effects of the previous year still continued, Ram achieved a turnover of 446 million USD in 1993.
Ram, in 1994, with a turnnover of 483 million USD, kept her leadership position among Foreign Trade Capital Companies despite of the absence of export incentives and reduced trade relations between neighbouring countries, and positive effect of the devaluation.
Ram became a competitor in the foreign markets with foreign countries’ companies and gained its front place among the Foreign Trade Capital Companies according to the “many products” and “many countries” principles.
In order to increase the export target of the other companies connected to the Foreign Trade Group, the widening of the distribution channels and dealerships and the restructuring activities continued rapidly. For this purpose, Ramtorg, Tashkocauto and Ram&Kofisa Pacific Ltd. were established in Moscow, Tashkent and Hong Kong respectively.
The ratio of the automotive exports in the turnover increased significantly in 1995.
Ram’s competitive edge in diversified foreign markets improved significantly. The turnover increased with a ratio of 26% of the previous year and reached to 648 million USD. The amount of 609.2 million USD of it achieved through export and the rest of 39 million USD achieved through import.
Parallel to the market analysis and feasibility studies performed by Ram; “Migros”, the retailing chain of Koç Group, started to operate its first international retailing chain in Baku namely “Ramstore” with the strategy of expanding the operation to Central Asian Republics and Russia.
In line with this strategy first “Ramstore” was operational in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1996.
The turnover of the company was 582 million USD, with 530 million USD export and 52 million USD import.
The importance of Poland in Eastern Europe, Romania in Balkans, Russia, Ukraine and Central Asian Republics increased significantly in 1997.
On the grounds that the demand structure of those markets fit in with the product scale of Koç Group, the organizational activities in those countries with high economic developments continued broadening and moreover, the exportations to the traditional markets in Northern Africa as well as the attempts regarding the investment opportunities were accelerated.
Ramenka Ltd. partnership in the supermarket sector in Moscova Russia, Moscow; Ram Auto Ltd. company in the automotive marketing in Azerbaijan, Baku and in order to serve in car renting, Set Auto Ltd. partnerships both in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan Republics were established in 1997.
SamKocAuto investment, decision as 50-50% joint-partnership between Koç Group and Uzavtosanoat organisation of Uzbekistan government in Uzbekistan, Samarkand were realized with a manufacturing capacity of 3.000 midibus and truck.
Automotive business unit signed the import and distribution agreement with Ford Motor Co. USA thanks to the company establishment processes in Central Asia and Caucasus. Ram Auto Almaty was established as the automotive marketing company in Kazakhstan.
In addition to the shopping malls in Baku and Moscow, Rambutya company was established with the Migros partnership and first Ramstore of Kazakhstan was opened.
Ram-Henkel Ltd. came into the service in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan for the purpose of import, the whole distribution and marketing of consumption and food products.
Since 1995, the sugar trade has been conducted together with ED&F Man firm of England under a joint account and in 1998 the decision regarding the establishment of a joint venture company concerning that joint trade was taken and Ram Man Gıda Ticaret A.Ş. was then established.
In addition to the automotive, durable goods, food, consumer goods and iron and steel business units, general trade, plastic and paper business units have began to operate concerning the import and domestic sales.
The turnover of the company was 740.9 million USD with an increase of 23% than the previous year.
The official opening of SamKocAuto factory, which would produce midi buses and trucks was fulfilled in Samarkand, Uzbekistan by Koç Group and Uzavtosanoat.
Ram participated with 25% share in Beko Polska S.A. company established in Poland to market the durable consumer goods.
Tunusdan S.A. has began to operate in Tunusia with partnership of Ram to produce refrigerators.
Additional Ramstores were opened in Kazakhstan where Butya company was the Kazakh partner.
Ram Mersin Free Zone branch was closed down and Ram Ege Free Zone branch began its operation.
The cental purchasing from Erdemir started to operate for the needs of Koç Group also in 1999.
The turnover was 652.3 million USD .
Ram Foreign Trade Inc. became partner with 5% stake in TNT Lojistik ve Dağıtım Hizmetleri A.Ş., which has been established with the organization and venture of the Foreign Trade Group.
The turnover of the company in 2000, with 12% increase over previous year, was 730 million USD with 588.3 million USD export and 141.7 million USD domestic market sales.
Because of the economic depression in February 2001, and the devaluation due to the abolishment of the currency peg, the company faced doubtful credit burden and currency exchange difference costs. Strategic and radical decisions have been taken and put into effect regarding the liquidation of the domestic market businesses, the diminishing of the credit burden, restriction of the importation and lowering of the stocks.
The operations of the Ram Auto companies in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and Ram Henkel companies in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were ceased.
In 2001, the automotive products are exported to 9 different countries.
For the first time, 130 units of Ford Cargo were sold to Uzbekistan, the contracts concerning the sales of 552 units special vehicle to Algeria and 200 units of fuel tanker to Iraq, were signed.
The sales of television and compressors to Iraq have been fulfilled. LPG cylinders agreement for 250.000 units was signed.
Within the context of flash heater investment agreement signed in Egypt, 35.000 unit of flash heaters were exported.
The turnover of the company reached to 783 million USD with an increase of 7.3% over the previous year.
The company in 2002, moved to its new location at Rüzgarlıbaçe Kavacık Kavşağı, Energy Plaza, Beykoz from Mecidiyeköy, Büyükdere Caddesi No: 101.
Ram achieved 866 million USD turnover and became the third among the Foreign Trade Capital Companies in General, second in both Machinery and Electric-Electronic Industrial Products sectors.
The award ceremony of Turkey’s biggest export companies in 2002
Sheraton Hotel, Ankara, October,13 2003.
In 2003, The company’s share of those foreign affiliates namely Ramenka/Russia, Rambutya/Kazakhstan and Ramstore/Azerbaijan were sold to Migros Türk T.A.Ş.
The central purchasing business of iron and steel from Erdemir regarding the needs of the Koç Group companies has been broadened and proved a significant contribution to the Koç Group companies.
Ram’s turnover in 2003 was 456 million USD.
In 2004, the shipments of energy sector to Iraq continued under the surveillance of Ram’s coordination and automotive export shipments gained acceleration.
Algeria office moved to its new location at: 20 Chemin Ibn Badis (ex poirson) El Biar, Alger.
Ram with a turnover of 861 million USD, became the 10th biggest exporter company of Turkey.
Ram participated to the fair of “Historical Silk Road by train” thanks to the organization held for the first time at a train within wagons.
Within Koç Holding wagon our sister companies such as Arçelik, Aygaz, Beko, Beldeyama, Ford Otosan, Migros-Ramstore, Opet, Otokar and Otoyol were also represented by Ram.
In 2005, Ford Cargo upper body mounted Trucks and Ford Transit ambulances were exported to Iraq.
Ram’s turnover in 2005 was 784 million USD.
In 2006, by being awarded for the tender of vehicles in category of “upper body mounted trucks”, Ram had been the official supplier to United Nations.
Thus with the outspread of the internet for the purchase and sale of the products in this globalised world, Ram expanded its personnel and equipment in this field.
The “Gitt” promotional project has been developed for Opet from Far East within this year.
The company achieved a turnover of 606 million USD in 2006.
The shipments to United Nation Missions in different countries have continued.
Fuel tankers were shipped to Iraq.
The “Mike Doll” promotional project was developed for Opet from Far East.
The company achieved 324 million USD turnover this year.
A two year contract was signed to supply unleaded gasoline to Iraq.
Upperbody mounted trucks were delivered to Azerbaijan.
The company achieved 278 million USD turnover.
Another two year contract was signed to supply Iraq with gasoil.
Import of fresh fruits from Central and South America was launched.
Construction machineries, dump trucks and various workshop equipments were delivered to the municipality of Amasya, Bitlis and Kütahya under the contract signed with CFCU of Prime Ministry Treasury Department through utilization of EC funds.
This year the company achieved 317 million USD turnover.
Over the last 40 years, Ram has achieved regional know-how, expertise and strong presence especially in the emerging markets, pioneered Koç Group’s investments in the Central Asian Republics, built-up expertise in foreign trade models, export-import transactions and trade finance.
Ram’s present main operations are special exports, and for Sikorsky Aircraft in Turkey and Turkish Republics, the execution of central purchasing of iron and steel products, rendering services in Azerbaijan, Algeria, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the purpose of new business development of the Koç Group companies and developing business in Central and South America.