It is common to hear business leaders talk of agility, or the importance of business resiliency, or the wisdom of a disaster recovery plan. It is another to hear these themes framed against the backdrop of war.
Fozzy Group is one of the largest industrial companies in Ukraine. Its Silpo brand is also one of the country’s largest and best-known retailers. In the last year it has pivoted to become a critical distributor of food, medicine and humanitarian aid. This is what a resilient, agile business looks like.
A Triumph of Supply Chain Management
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion. It quickly overran large parts of southern and eastern Ukraine, leading to the displacement of nearly eight million people. Despite a successful counteroffensive in the autumn, large parts of Ukraine remain occupied.
Fozzy Group, like others, was badly impacted. It lost $75 million worth of goods and assets due to looting and destruction of its facilities. Approximately $30 million of investments made in 2021 have been destroyed. Prior to the war, Fozzy Group had around 750 retail outlets throughout the country. Today, 87 stores remain closed or abandoned as a result of active military action or Russian occupation. That 646 remain open and stocked is a minor miracle. More impressively, around 100 stores have reopened in the territory recently liberated by Ukrainian forces.
“The war is one of those situations you cannot be ready for. It is a humanitarian disaster that has affected our country. Fozzy Group is fighting to keep as many stores as we can open and supplied,” says Ivan Slavioglo, VP of IT, Fozzy Group.
In a triumph of supply chain management, Fozzy stores continue to stock international goods. Prior to the invasion, its stores carried goods from 185 local craft suppliers; 132 remain on shelves today. Online retail, which paused during February and March, has resumed.
Separate to retail, Fozzy Group has donated more than 1,300 tonnes of food and basic necessities to the Ukrainian defence forces, hospitals and orphanages. Nearly 500 tonnes of foreign aid have been held and distributed through its warehouses.
Ensuring Families Have Food
The business has persevered because Fozzy Group made it its mission to do so. It has also required a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work which included the use of a cloud-based disaster recover (DR) solution.
With a strong possibility of its Ukrainian data centres being targeted by Russia, Fozzy Group quickly recognised it needed to replicate its data and apps outside of the country and have the ability for extremely fast recovery if required. The modern reality is that stocked shelves rely on a complex supply chain and logistics system. No IT infrastructure, no deliveries.
“This was not a theoretical risk but a real risk,” says Slavioglo. “Plus, at a human level, our own people had their own commitments. IT specialists are in short supply.”
Within a few weeks of the war starting, Fozzy Group deployed VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery and replicated all critical data and servers to the cloud. Today, it has 2,000 VMs and 400,500 TB in the cloud. “Nearly 80% of services are now virtualised. We also have a couple of monolithic enterprise applications that are covered by VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery without the need for refactoring,” Slavioglo explains.
This means if the organisation’s data centres suffer physical outages or cyberattacks, the company can instantly power on the virtual instances in an isolated recovery environment, and very quickly get operations back up again.
Of course, Slavioglo prefers to shine the attention elsewhere. In Kyiv, Silpo bakeries have worked around the clock to supply the city with fresh bread; in Kharkiv, supermarkets gave up space to shelter displaced persons.
“We’ve made it our mission to ensure that every given day Ukrainian families have enough food on their tables,” he says. “We’re eternally grateful to all the businesses, governmental and non-profit organisations that are helping Ukrainians survive this war.”
About Fozzy Group
Fozzy Group is one of the largest trade industrial groups in Ukraine and one of the leading Ukrainian retailers, with over 700 outlets all around the country. Besides retail, the group has business interests in food production, bank business, IT, logistics and restaurants.
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