Interview with Marco Julia Eggert, EuroCham Board Member and Co-Founder of Seekers Spirits
- 25 November, 2022
- Posted by: EuroCham Cambodia
1. What motivated you to run for the Board of Directors at EuroCham?
As a local producer and exporter of high-quality spirits at Seekers, for which we have developed our own brand and business in Cambodia, I would like to support other members on questions related to starting or expanding their own businesses. We are constantly trying to make doing business with and from Cambodia easier, and participating in EuroCham’s activities will give us a chance to help the European business community as a whole grow.
2. Can you tell us about yourself? What issues are you most excited to work on with the board?
Based on my experience in doing business in Cambodia, and trading in and out of the country gives me a good insight into where EuroCham can contribute concerning easing trade and investment with and into Cambodia. This is an issue that I would like to focus on, in addition to looking into issues related to hospitality, tourism, and of course alcohol.
3. Everyone seems to know about Seekers Independent Spirits and they are about to celebrate their fourth anniversary. What has been the secret to your success in growing this brand?
Although it might sound like an advert, I would say; Love and Passion - for quality, for detail, for the environment, and for our team and our customers.
Tomorrow (Saturday 26th) we have an event at our Spirit House to celebrate our fourth year of Seekers Independent Spirits (everyone is welcome). We managed to establish our flagship product (Mekong Dry Gin), as the most-sold premium gin in the country from the first full year of existence.
We have the most awarded spirit portfolio in Southeast Asia (yesterday we were awarded two more silver medals at the Drinks Business Asia Spirit Competition in Hong Kong for our Jason Kong gin, as well as for our Orange Liqueur, respectively).
It's about the quality of the product and the distinct "Mekong flavours" which our products have. We highly curate our branding, understanding that we are a premium brand, which is on a mission to showcase the beauties and vibrancy of this wonderful region of the world and its people. Furthermore, we are highly environmentally conscious and are constantly looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
We have not only successfully penetrated the trade businesses in the country, but are also strong on the off-trade market, with more locals buying our products. Part of our success, we believe, is also in focusing on the local market from day one, as we believe that in order to succeed we need to be strong and appreciated at home to start with.
Our goal is to become the leading Spirit House in Southeast Asia, which is why we are really happy to already be exporting (or about to do so) into Singapore, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. We will be present in nine export markets within the next quarter, which is why we have increased our production capacity with the most modern still one can find in the market.
Every small step is carefully thought through, which helps us to walk the sometimes difficult road ahead.
4. You have a lot of experience in the tourism and F&B sectors, globally and in Cambodia. How do you see the status of these sectors in Cambodia currently?
Before switching to the spirits industry, I dedicated my life to the hospitality industry. I have an MBA in Hospitality from Cornell University and I grew up in an entrepreneurial family dedicated to hospitality. I believe having been in hospitality has helped to better connect to our customers, as we perfectly understand what their needs are and what solutions/ services we can provide.
Ten years ago Cambodia was a lower budget-oriented destination. It has been wonderful to see a change towards higher quality all through tourism and F&B sectors, not only with better products but also better service, as society has been evolving rapidly. In the next few years, we will see an even higher degree of sophistication in the market.
5. If you were to pitch Cambodia as a trade or investment destination to a European company, what would your sales pitch look like?
As a trade or investment destination I would point out that Cambodia offers:
- Positive investment environment: the current Cambodian Law on Investment offers very attractive taxation allowances for some sectors. Cambodia enjoys trade benefits as an ASEAN member. It has improved its market access, strengthened its domestic business environment, raised its total factor and labor productivity, as well as increased its domestic value added. It has also made positive changes in the rules of origin governing the EU’s EBA program.
- Employment: wages are rising with the development of the economy, but they are still competitive compared to other countries in the region, and the population is quickly becoming more dynamic and better qualified.
- Growth and stability: Cambodia is expected to recover its growth rate of more than 6% in the coming years and enjoys political stability.
- Lifestyle: Phnom Penh as a city has been rapidly modernizing, as can be observed with the development of grade A office buildings, commercial centers, luxury hotels, high-quality F&B offerings, more leisure options, as well as a lively lifestyle, as a few examples, which makes it attractive for businesses and individuals to establish themselves here. Furthermore, not only has Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville experienced an impactful change in the last years, but investments are also reaching other areas of the country, further helping the regional development of the country.