Sako set for growth

Raimo Karjalainen joined Sako, the Finnish-based manufacturer, back in 2006. When Raimo started working at Sako, he also became a member of the Beretta Group, a world-famous Italian family company who owns Sako Ltd. In all, this year marked 15 years of service. 

Raimo passed his hunter’s degree at the age of 15 and since then has hunted both small game and big game. 

“My hunting hobby has varied slightly over the years, sometimes I have hunted more and sometimes less,” says Raimo. “I hunt with both a rifle and a shotgun. Hunting is a great way to move around in nature and at the same time, depending on the form of hunting, it allows you to meet like-minded hunting guys. Clay shooting is a good way to practice shooting skills, it becomes a hobby in the summer time, while it also maintains shooting skills well for hunting.”

Working hard to meet demand

Working within a changing marketplace can be challenging task, made harder by Covid-19 pandemic, however Raimo is confident that Sako can continue to be successful.

“In general, the importance of a better understanding of the market has increased recently and modern digital channels offer good new opportunities for this. The correct and effective use of the feedback and information received has brought new challenges. The exceptional year 2021 has brought its own challenges typical of this year

“The order backlog is a record that poses really big challenges for our production to increase capacity to meet demand,” continues Raimo. “The biggest business challenges are the availability of components, the operation of transportation and meeting customer demand as well as placing a sufficient number of products to market. At the same time, we must already prepare for the coming years and prepare for the levelling off of demand.

“The prevailing Covid-19 situation has increased the number of outdoor activities, although sales of Sako's products increased even before the Covid period. High demand will probably not go on indefinitely, therefore we are constantly developing new models that are of interest to the end user. 

“We hope that the employees remain healthy and that the production in both factories is secured (rifle and cartridge factories). During this year, travel and the personal meeting of customers has been very limited, making remote connections the main means of communication. With the new remote connection methods introduced, things have been handled even surprisingly well, but they do not replace personal meetings, and hopefully we will soon be able to return to the so-called normal operations, which also allows face-to-face meetings with foreign clients. Probably part of the activity will now be the use of proven remote connections alongside face-to-face meetings.

In terms of production, increasing the flexibility of capacity plays a very important role so that we can better adapt to fluctuations in demand,” says Raimo.

Communication is key

Raimo understands the need to have a strong digital presence, highlighting communication as an important aspect of Sako’s business model.

“We have intensified our cooperation with importers and invest heavily in social media and the digital world,” continues Raimo. “We listen to the opinions and feedback of end users and learn from their opinion. We have increased communication with the customer base, thanks to the great digital world.

“The popularity of hunting seems to hold its own and continue. We’ll strengthen our business; low growth potential is possible. In terms of shooting hobby, new sports are coming such as Practical shooting and we are developing new products for shooting enthusiasts.

Sako has been working hard trough the Covid-19 pandemic with only minor issues.

“We have made a lot of special arrangements in both factories to avoid workers from the corona disease,” says Raimo. “The employees have done a lot of remote work from their home. Both factories have done well so far although there have been minor problems with component availability and logistics matters.”

Key products lie at the heart of all successful businesses and that stands true at Sako. The company has a number of hot products that retailers should be taking a look at right now.

“The current hot products are Sako S20 rifle, new Blade cartridge and new versions of Tikka rifles,” says Raimo. “Product development continues closely and new models are being developed. In the future, we will introduce new rifle models and expand the range of cartridges. It is very important to closely monitor consumer usage habits and future expectations in order to be able to develop just the right kind of products for a changing market.”