Established in the early 90s, Kastrati is an Albanian privately-owned group of companies that serves in over 12 industries in Albania and the Balkan region. Mainly recognized as the leading Albanian retail and wholesale trader of hydrocarbon products, Kastrati also successfully operates in other industries such as insurance, construction and real estate, tourism and hospitality, automotive industry, retail and many more. Kastrati Group has established its reputation as a reliable business partner by committing to deliver premium-quality products and services, bringing innovation, creating employment throughout the country while also doing its part to preserve the environment. Here, the group’s President Shefqet Kastrati explains how it has built trust both locally and internationally and its strategy for going forward
Could you walk us through the history of Kastrati Group?
Everything began in 1991 with the opening of the first Kastrati fuel station. Thanks to the quality of the products and the trust we created, dozens of other fuel stations were added throughout the country in the coming years. Today, we count more than 150 fuel stations across Albania. Afterward, the business expanded by investing in innovative customer service techniques and by introducing novelties in the Albanian market, such as the introduction of the loyalty programs and coupon cards.
Apart from the retail activity via fuel stations, Kastrati is the leading fuel wholesale provider in Albania and in the region (Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo etc.). Today, Kastrati has the largest storing capacity of 130,000 MTs in Porto Romano, Durres, as well as a distribution fleet of 120 tankers. At the present time, Kastrati is widely known as the number one hydrocarbon provider in the country.
The growth of Kastrati Fuel and the establishment of a trusted brand induced the expansion and diversification of our portfolio also in other industries including insurance, construction, hospitality, etc. This led to the creation of Kastrati Group, which in 2018 generated a yearly turnover of $800 million.
Kastrati Group trades hydrocarbons in Albania and in the region. What gives your company a competitive advantage?
The indisputable quality of our products and the first class service have been and remain the peculiarity of our businesses. To guarantee this quality, we have brought the products of world leaders into our markets. I can mention here our excellent cooperation with Exxon Mobil and other names that remain partners and supporters of our activity. It is also worth mentioning our investments in storage and distribution capacities, the application of innovative technologies in operations and maintenance and the staff’s qualification for specific tasks.
Kastrati first entered the real estate industry in 2005. Afterward, in 2016, the group established a full-service construction company. Why did you decide to get involved in this line of business?
It started as a way of satisfying the specific construction needs of our companies, such as those for fuel stations, automotive showrooms or office spaces. It then proceeded with the development of thorough business plans and the identification of the need for high-quality constructions and the application of innovative technologies in the Albanian construction market. We currently have a consolidated construction portfolio including multifunctional buildings, residential complexes, touristic complexes, business-related buildings, hospitality related buildings and many more.
Kastrati is currently building Downtown One, a mix-use green building with 37 stories, which is expected to be completed in 2024. What investment opportunities will be available in this development?
Downtown One is the quality emblem with which Kastrati Construction identifies itself. With a height of 144 meters, this building will be the tallest in Albania and its 77,000 square meters’ floor area will provide a combination of luxury apartments, contemporary offices and modern commercial spaces. The architectural project of Downtown One was designed by the prestigious MVRDV and the construction project was designed by the world famous ARUP. The partnership with these world-renowned studios guarantees unparalleled quality and sustainability parameters. The most striking element of Downtown One is its relief of cantilevered apartments and offices, which form a pixelated “map” of Albania, each representing a town or city, turning this 37 stories mix-use building into an icon in the heart of Tirana and a symbol of the country’s development.
Downtown One is an eco-friendly project. Comments about the importance of this project and how else Kastrati shows its commitment to a greener future.
Downtown One is the first project in Albania registered under the LEED® green building program and upon completion, it will apply to become LEED® certified. This fact aligns so well with our commitment to the environment. This commitment is reflected in long-term strategies of Kastrati Fuel, Kastrati Construction and other companies of the group, which apply nature-friendly technologies and products. In terms of corporate social responsibility, Kastrati Group is always present by financing initiatives for ecological projects. Throughout the years, among other initiatives, we have contributed to the preservation of three national parks in Albania: Butrint, Jezerce and Theth.
How would you evaluate the role of your staff over the years?
Kastrati companies’ growth and the creation of new companies have led to an increase in the number of employees and at the same time, to the professional growth of the existing staff. Kastrati Group counts more than 3,000 competent professionals working safely together. However, our major success is the high employee retention rate, which demonstrates the efficacy of our organizational culture. In Kastrati Group, human resources represent the most valuable asset and an important factor for its growth and development.
You are one of the most successful Albanian entrepreneurs and you have established partnerships with several international famous brands. How did you manage to establish and maintain these relationships?
Kastrati is one of those groups of companies that inspire trust in foreign investors and which has the adequate capabilities to establish partnerships in various industries. In the hospitality and tourism sector, we can mention the partnership of Kastrati with Hyatt Regency to bring very soon Hyatt Regency Tirana, a successful agreement signed in November 2018. Also, we are the exclusive authorized distributor of Mercedes-Benz cars in Albania since 2015. Furthermore, our insurance company Albsig is supported by prestigious re-insurance companies such as Hannover Re, Munich Re and Lloyds. In the hydrocarbons industry, we have established a collaboration with Exxon Mobil, whereas in the construction industry we collaborate with prestigious companies, such as ARUP and MVRDV. We believe that the foundation of the successful partnerships with international companies are our trustworthiness and the long-term strategies and vision of our projects.
Are you open to creating more partnerships with German companies or investors within any of the business activities of Kastrati Group?
Our partnerships with renowned international companies have been a good omen for our business and have facilitated our efforts to incorporate international standards in the products and services that we offer in the Albanian market. We have an extended portfolio of investment in different industries, thus we are always open for collaboration opportunities with German companies and investors. The combination of the expertise of German investors and Kastrati Group’s capabilities and deep understanding of the Albanian market has revealed itself to be an ideal formula for successful and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Do you have a final message for our German readers?
Our ever-evolving group has a commitment to become a leader in every industry where we operate, to be internationally recognized as a reliable business partner and a significant contributor to communities. We look forward to bring to life new successful projects and embrace fruitful partnerships with German companies that are inspired by the same values of responsibility, innovation and social responsibility, and thus bring the two countries further closer.