Biography of Peter Kovalenko
Petr Nikolayevich Kovalenko is an entrepreneur, co-founder of OFFPRICE, a leading expert in Fashion Retail.
In the photo: Pyotr Kovalenko
Childhood and youth
Petr Kovalenko was born in Moscow. The Kovalenko family at that time lived in Yasenevo. Peter’s parents are ordinary people, engineers.
My father was engaged in the repair and maintenance of foreign medical equipment. In the 1990s, medical diagnostic centers equipped with the latest equipment were opened in Russia. My father often went on long business trips to install equipment in these centers, to train doctors to work on new foreign equipment.
Mom worked at the Institute of Poliomyelitis of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR, where she was engaged in research in the promising field of scaling up the production of vaccines. Has copyright certificates for inventions.
Pyotr Kovalenko in childhood with his parents
Petr Kovalenko studied at a school in the center of Moscow. It was the most prestigious Moscow “twentieth” school, where the Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth II once even came. Peter will remember this moment for the rest of his life. By the visit of the honored guest, all students of the school were forced to intensively learn English.
Peter studied well at school. He was excellent at the Russian language, literature, biology and geography. He did not like physical education, but outside of school he loved to ride a bicycle for his own pleasure. Also from childhood, Petr Kovalenko was instilled with a love for art – his parents sent his son to the cello class. As a child, he did not like music lessons, but later Peter realized that it was beneficial and helped a lot in development.
Peter’s classmates were from wealthy and famous families. Communicating and making friends with them was not always easy, but it was this that eventually gave the understanding that all people, in general, are the same.
Pyotr Kovalenko in school years
About wanting to be an entrepreneur, Peter realized when he was 8 years old. He read Lee Iacocca’s The Manager’s Career and has since fallen in love with cars and entrepreneurship.
Education and first job
Moscow State University of Engineering Ecology is the university where Kovalenko went to study after he graduated from high school. He did not want to go there – his parents advised him.
The course was frankly boring. In order to stimulate their son’s interest, the parents suggested that Peter study for an MBA at the Higher Commercial School at the Academy of Foreign Trade, one of the first business schools in Russia. The knowledge, circle of friends and experience that Petr Kovalenko received while studying there help him to this day.
At the age of 20, he was among the hardened business sharks of the 90s. In his first year of study at the MBA, Peter did not even know what and how to talk to them about. But in the second year of study, he joined and with many of them later became best friends. Then Peter realized that no matter how popular, rich, authoritative the surrounding people are, you can always find a common language and feel comfortable.
In 2004, Petr received four diplomas at once: an MGUIE diploma, an MBA diploma, a diploma from the European University of International Management and an Executive MBA diploma.
Pyotr Kovalenko in his youth
The first place of work of Petr Kovalenko is a startup, a company selling goods for newborns. Peter was hired with no work experience, as he had excellent English, and the job involved business trips to China, Hong Kong and Thailand.
For the first salary of $400, Petr Kovalenko rented an apartment, spending all his earned money.
“My professional debut is pacifiers, nipples and rattles,” the entrepreneur jokes.
Starting a Career in Fashion Retail
The next place of work for Petr Kovalenko was a chain of sales department stores. Career went up the hill. Six months later, Petr received the “Employee of the Year” award, he was promoted to the position of Senior Purchasing Manager. But during the crisis of 2008, Peter was fired one day.
Due to problems with the spine and a recent operation, doctors forbade Peter to sit for six months. With three girlfriends, he went to travel the world. The round-the-world trip lasted nine months.
First, they traveled around Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and then went from Moscow to Peter’s BMW all over Europe, including Sardinia, Corsica, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland – in total thirty countries.
At one time, Peter traveled thirty countries
During the trip, Petr was called by former employers and asked to return. He agreed. Over the next five years, Petr Kovalenko rose to the position of Director of the Foreign Economic Activity Department (FEA), joined the Board of Directors. But in 2014, a new crisis broke out, and he was fired again one day.
Establishment of own network of OFFPRICE outlets
Just two months after the second dismissal, Petr Kovalenko registered the company. In 2014, at the height of the crisis, Petr Kovalenko and two other employees from their previous jobs decided to create their own chain of fashion stores. The network was named OFFPRICE. To receive funds to open his business, Petr Kovalenko mortgaged his own apartment on Sparrow Hills worth more than twenty million rubles.
For the first six months they worked without an office, in a rented apartment of one of the partners. Of the equipment, businessmen had only a printer on the windowsill. The new company did not have an office until its revenue reached three hundred million rubles a year.
It was decided to immediately work “in white”. Peter understood that they wanted to get into the big leagues, the business should be transparent and understandable for banks and potential investors.
In 2014, Peter and like-minded people founded OFFPRICE
Before the opening of the store, the first six months worked in the red. The salaries of the three co-founders were 50 thousand rubles a month. There were many loans, Peter’s mortgaged apartment and endless debts. The costs have only increased.
When the opening of the first store was planned, and almost everything was ready, Peter’s former employer found out about this and deliberately outbid the rent almost twice. The site for the outlet was given to him.
Petr opened the first OFFPRICE store in Moscow in Savelovsky shopping center in March 2015. Immediately after the opening, OFFPRICE became a profitable company. It was on the opening day that Peter and his colleagues realized that they were an established business. Following the entrepreneurs, almost one after the other, opened two more stores.
In the first year, the company’s turnover reached three hundred million rubles. Then the entrepreneur chose the concept of “treasure hunt” – the opportunity to purchase a very high-quality item from a well-known brand at an affordable price.
The second important feature was the quick change of collections and the rate for the minimum margin, but a large turnover. It also happened that some things were revalued to a price below cost. The goal is not to delay the item in the store. So, once the price of a pair of jeans was ten rubles.
Today, the company’s turnover is 3 billion rubles a year, thirty stores operate in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tver.
Company name lawsuits
In the second year of operation, former employers came up with another way to crush a competitor and filed a trademark lawsuit against OFFPRICE.
The essence of the lawsuit was that off-price in the US is the concept of a discount, which cannot be the name of a store. Competitors made three attempts to deprive the company of the name, hired the best intellectual property lawyers.
The entrepreneur managed to fight off all claims and defend the right to the name
But all court cases were lost, and the Supreme Court refused to consider the case at all. Then the leading business media in Russia, for example, RBC, wrote about this high-profile case.
“I am philosophical about attacks on our company, realizing that this is ordinary creative jealousy,” Petr Kovalenko on competition
Participation in “Meet for charity” auctions
Petr Kovalenko has been involved in charity work for a long time. His favorite hobby is participating in Meet for charity auctions. Peter became the largest buyer, having bought more than one hundred and fifty lots and spent more than fifteen million rubles on charity.
Pyotr Kovalenko and Oksana Lavrentieva
These meetings greatly enriched Peter’s horizons. The most memorable meetings: with Oksana Lavrentieva, Anton Belov, Nika Belotserkovskaya.
Patronship at the Garage Museum
Petr Kovalenko is the patron of the Garage Museum. He was offered to become a patron and support contemporary art by the director of the Garage, Anton Belov, after a meeting at the Meet for Charity.
Patronage at Garage means trips to the most famous exhibitions of contemporary art around the world, viewing private collections and interacting with curators. Patronship allows Petr Kovalenko to touch the spirit of the times. Contemporary art and fashion always go hand in hand and are often fueled by ideas and energy.
Clothing retail is a unique area in this regard. It reflects the spirit of the times, adapts to change and is the place where new cultural and social trends are born and expressed. To survive in retail, you need to feel these trends, understand them and constantly change. In this sense, the relationship with the Garage became logical for Peter from the point of view of mutual feeding.
To be a Garage patron is to be an influencer. This is important for those people who do not want to be bystanders, but want to influence the spirit of the times and leave a positive mark. This works for both the individual and the institution. Helping the museum, you influence the spirit of the time through contemporary art.
Garage Patron and Connoisseur of Contemporary Art
The name Petra is written in the lobby of the museum building. Petr hopes that his company OFFPRICE will become a corporate patron of the Garage museum in the future.
Petr Kovalenko collects contemporary art. His collection includes paintings by such artists as Pavel Pepperstein, Vyacheslav Okhunov, as well as photographs by Timofey Kolesnikov and other works.
“Fashion Mindfulness” – meaningful fashion
The logical evolution of OFFPRICE was the development of the concept of “Fashion Mindfulness” – meaningful fashion. Peter’s understanding of the basic task of millions of people, which sounds like “Nothing to wear”, led to this concept of Peter. The company delved into the study of the history of fashion and its purpose.
“Our guests are busy with their professions: the work of a doctor, a cook, a musician, and they do not have time to flip through fashion collections and be interested in fashion. And clothes are a statement, we all want to be read without words and clothes help us in any life situations, ”says Peter.
The goal of Peter’s work is to transform people and improve the quality of their lives. This is achieved, among other things, with the help of the service, when the guest receives an image for all occasions, selected by experts.
The mission of Peter and his company is to transform people for the better
To obtain a quality result, OFFPRICE uses the strengths of the company and the most advanced technologies: a wide range, outlet pricing, Fashion psychology science and modern machine learning technologies.
“It became clear that we are not selling clothes, but solving people’s problems,” – Peter about the new OFFPRICE concept.
Petr Kovalenko is fond of philosophy, for example, he adheres to the Japanese principle of ikigai, psychology, the theory of conscious consumption and sustainable development.
Another hobby is sports and traveling: Petr goes hiking, hiking, and loves cycling. The entrepreneur has traveled to more than sixty countries around the world.
One of the businessman’s hobbies is traveling.
Passionate about cars. Collects contemporary art.
Winner of the Personal Contribution Award for supporting art and cultural institutions in Russia from Kommersant. Initiatives. Two-time winner of the international competition “Entrepreneur of the Year” in the nomination “Retail”. Winner of the EY-2020 competition in the nomination “Trade”.