Looking back at 2020 and forward at 2021
Lately, we have been approached by a number of partners, friends and business organisations, wondering how last year went and how the current year is moving or going to be. As for Russia in general, one can say that 2020 was not as bad as expected during the peak of the COVID crisis. The economy was hit less severely, with an economic growth of around -3%. Small and medium sized businesses have been hit hard, though. In 2021, a lot will happen on how the whole world will cope with the epidemic, how fast the world economy will get back to a kind of normal life. When it comes to vaccinations, Russia is lagging behind its initial plans, just as almost the whole world (with very few exceptions). A growth rate of around 2.5% to 3% is expected by economists, which we believe is realistic in case no covid-related negative surprises will appear. Business’s interest in Russia and business activity has definitely grown again.
When it comes to Quality Partners, we look back at a successful year 2020. Notwithstanding the difficulties that the COVID-19 crisis imposed on the world, with the many uncertainties and limitations (yes, in April/May 2020, the outlook for the overall economy and for Quality Partners was a bit bleak, naturally), the team managed to remain positive, grow its business and continued to be an attractive partner for foreign businesses.
New clients have cooperated with Quality Partners, while a few have – unfortunately – decided to close down their Russian business. Several companies were newly brought to the Russian market, demonstrating the possibility to start up companies in Russia even during times of pandemic limitations.
The number of staff has remained stable, adding one colleague to the team. The team has performed very well and adapted very well to the new environment where everyone was forced to work from home. Even in this psychologically challenging situation, with all the uncertainties, the sudden physical isolation and certain communication issues, the team kept its motivation levels high and has always been loyal and willing to contribute to the success of Quality Partners and its clients – a team the Managing Director, Andreas Bitzi, is very proud of.
Apart from serving our clients in the areas of strategy, business setup, business development, finance, accounting, payroll, tax compliance, tax consulting, corporate law, contract law, labour law, intellectual property rights, migration law and legal support for localization of manufacturing, we have added family law and inheritance law to our range of business, being able to support foreign managers living in Russian in these areas, which are especially of relevance when it comes to cross-border cases.
Quality Partners have been very active in videoconferences and virtual events. Also, the team members have continued to be in key positions of international business organisations in Russia. Irina Saadueva, VP Legal & Tax, continues to be representative of the Italian GIM-Unimpresa in the Northwest and was elected as Deputy Chairman of the Legal Subcommittee of the Association of European Businesses in the Northwest. Irina Krasheninnikova, VP HR, continues to be the head of the HR Committee at the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce. Andreas Bitzi, Managing Director, was elected as Chairman of the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Committee of the Association of European Businesses. At the same time, since there is a limitation to chairing only one committee at a time, he stepped down from the Chairmanship of the Northwestern Regional Committee of the Association to a Deputy Chairman position. Furthermore, Andreas was elected Board Member and Russia Chapter Chairman of the JCC Joint Chambers of Commerce Switzerland. Only recently, in December, he was elected Chairman of the Compliance Committee of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce.
Holding these positions in key business organisations, Quality Partners are constantly involved in the hottest business issues that foreign businesses in Russia are faced with, ensure competence for foreign businesses and make sure the voices of their clients and the foreign business community are heard.
Looking into 2021, Quality Partners are confident to continue the stable business development demonstrated so far, strengthening competence and quality for our clients. With the expected easing of current restrictions connected to the pandemic in the second part of 2021, we may expect an increase of business activities and interest in the Russian market. Quality Partners are well prepared to support.
In Moscow, we are happy to leave the slightly inconvenient office location outside the centre and move into a new office in the very centre of Moscow, being much more easily reachable and accessible for our clients and partners. In St. Petersburg, we continue to serve our clients from our beautiful and perfectly located office on Nevsky Prospekt 55. Quality Partners currently work mainly from home but we are present in our offices as well. We plan to continue with a mix of working from home and in the office into the future to add comfort for our colleagues.