At DR Wakefield, we don’t just source the best coffee from all over the world, we sell it all over the world too. After all, wherever they’re based, roasters want the same thing: great coffee. It is for that reason that we have opened up a new warehouse in Lithuania. We spoke to the man at the helm of this new development, our Lithuanian-born coffee trader Mantvydas Trainavicius (or MT, as he’s better known), to get the lowdown:
DRW: Hi MT, so we’re going to talk about the new warehouse in Lithuania, but first a little bit about you. How long have you been in London and how did you come to work for DR Wakefield?
MT: Two and a half years, roughly. It was May 2013 when I joined as an intern for five months, and I then joined the trading desk as a trainee.
DRW: Sounds like things are going well. What’s your favourite thing about working at DRW?
MT: My favourite thing is that there are so many cultures, even in the office, and customers, suppliers. I think that’s kinda interesting, you learn a lot about different people. But what do I enjoy? Coffee, I love coffee and the opportunities that DR Wakefield has given me.
DRW: So, how did you come to be an intern?
MT: I had an idea to buy coffee from DR Wakefield and then sell it in the Eastern European market, because I found a customer who bought coffee from DR Wakefield in 2013. Then Simon [Wakefield, the MD] invited me to come and see him, and after that meeting he offered me an internship. So now, a couple of years later, my initial dream has basically come true.
DRW: Wow. You must have made a very good first impression, you must have had a strong business plan.
MT: Well, no, it wasn’t much of a business plan. I didn’t know a lot about regulation for taxation and everything. It was just an idea to buy and sell. The main structure; I didn’t have any idea. And now we have opened the warehouse, everything is being done properly.
DRW: So is the new warehouse a result of your idea or has DR Wakefield always had a strong Eastern European market?
MT: Well, when I started as an intern one of my colleagues was already working with two customers from there. When I joined the trading team I started working with them as their account manager and I found a new customer in Latvia, and more in other places around that area.
We then started doing deliveries for them, instead of them collecting, as I have a friend that works for a transport company which deals with all the European deliveries. The same company has a sister company, who does their warehousing in Lithuania. So the idea came from there, looking at the prices and whether it would be competitive or not.
Then we started to dig out all the taxation information, how it works, how much we have to pay for what, when, where… it took quite a lot of time and research. And then yeah, we opened it, we registered in Lithuania.
DRW: So as DR Wakefield’s market was already developing in that area it made logistical sense to set up a warehouse?
MT: Yeah, the warehouse took the first delivery on September 17th this year, but even two years earlier we had customers in that part of the world and were getting new customers. So when we decided we were going to open a Lithuanian warehouse it was a bit easier, because we already had sales.
When I moved the first container, half of it was already sold, we just needed to release it. So half of it, maybe less, was just speculative. So we just opened up a hub, lets put it that way, to make logistics easier, quicker and cheaper, and to be more competitive in the market.
DRW: OK, so where in Lithuania is the warehouse located?
MT: In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
DRW: And how big is it? How much can it hold?
MT: They bring in 200 containers a day, and 200 containers a day also go out.
DRW: Wow, that’s a big turnover.
MT: But they store everything, like computers, microwaves… everything. Technical, electric stuff, food, drinks. But they have all the right certification we need: their system and how they work is fine.
DRW: Does the coffee go straight there from the exporters?
MT: No it comes from our warehouse in Tilbury to Vilnius. We don’t currently hold all of DRWakefield’s stock, just a selection, but the customer has the option to have whatever coffee we have in the UK if they let us know before the shipment. So, we do now have about 30 different coffees.
DRW: So which countries are you shipping to from your Lithuanian base?
MT: OK, so it’s Lithuania of course, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. I think that’s it… for now.
DRW: And what does the future hold for DR Wakefield in eastern Europe?
MT: The plan is to develop the relationship with current customers, find few new ones and then try to ship straight from origin. For example Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, maybe a few others, which would give an even cheaper price for the customer, with fewer hands involved. It would go straight onto the ocean from Brazil to Lithuania.
DRW: So that’s maybe a few years down the line?
MT: No, I wouldn’t say two years. I would like to do it quicker; fingers crossed it goes well.
To find out what’s hot and what’s not in Eastern European coffee, keep a look out for our upcoming article What’s new in the Eastern European coffee market?