On November 3, 2017, CEELM reported that CEE Attorneys Romania had helped logistics company EshopWedrop Group — part of Xpediator Plc — establish a relationship with franchisees in Albania and Cyprus. We spoke with Mircea Bandean, Managing Director at EshopWedrop, for more information.
CEELM: Why did EshopWedrop choose to expand into Cyprus and Albania next? And if, as CEE Attorneys reported, the goal is to establish a “pan-European network,” does that mean negotiations are already underway for other franchisees in other markets as well?
M.B: We approached several potential franchisees from a number of Eastern European countries to begin with and Albanian Courier from Albania and Kronos Express from Cyprus were the ones which responded quicker and showed a real interest in becoming our franchisees and implementing EshopWedrop in their local markets. Indeed, we have ongoing discussions and negotiations in various stages for Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, and Ukraine as well.
CEELM: How different is the regulatory climate of franchising in Cyprus and Albania compared to the other markets EshopWedrop operates in?
M.B: No significant differences for Cyprus, given their EU member status and given the fact that our standard terms and conditions, developed together with CEE Attorneys Romania, are EU-compliant. Regarding Albania I would say that our T&C are probably “over-compliant," meaning that the Albanian legal requirements with regard to consumer protection and personal data protection —aspects most sensitive from legal point of view for our business — are less demanding than EU standards and legislation. However, we see already they are making progress in this regard as they are EU official candidate on course for membership negotiations and certainly they will align their relevant legislation to EU standards, but that will be just fine since the T&C we will be operating under are already EU compliant. In fact, I would say, we are giving a strong positive message to the local market with regard to the level of compliance and above all respect shown to Albanian consumers and clients of EshopWedrop.al.
CEELM: Why did you select CEE Attorneys as your external advisor?
M.B: Our group has a very long relationship with CEE Attorneys in general and with their Managing Partner Sergiu Gidei, in particular. I personally worked with Sergiu for more than ten years on various legal matters for various projects, from various industries – logistics, real estate, financial services, and now e-commerce.
CEELM: According to CEE Attorneys, the firm supported you "in the preparation of all legal documentation necessary for the structuring of the franchise, as well as in all stages of the contract negotiation process.” Does that mean the firm handled the negotiations (presumably coordinating with you, of course), or did you lead that process yourself?
M.B: The negotiations were led by me but when it came to various articles in the agreement which the other party asked to remove or amend the floor was taken by Krisztina Voicu and Sergiu Gidei from CEE Attorneys, and they did their best to convince the other party to keep a certain wording or negotiate to change one part in exchange for another part (that was more important for us). We often had pre-discussions preparing the conference calls with the other party and their legal advisors, even doing a little of role playing before the calls. They exemplified proper teamwork and focused on closing the agreement, which I appreciated a lot.
CEELM: “Role playing” is an interesting method. How did you do that and make it work?
M.B: I think the simple example is that we used the classical “Bad cop – good cop” strategy with them of course being “the bad cops” insisting to me (“the good cop”) in front of the other party why we had to include an important article, giving strong legal arguments which I then had to accept and implicitly drive the same for the other party.