Source: eKapija | Tuesday, 31.07.2018.| 15:55
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Vesna Mihailovic, director of Delfi Bookstores – New facilities, innovations and expansion of business

Vesna Mihailovic
Vesna Mihailovic
Our Delfi SKC bookstore in Belgrade has been visited by numerous writers. Still, we were the most glad to host Peruvian Nobel Prize recipient Mario Vargas Llosa and Norwegian crime novel author Jo Nesbo, on which occasions people patiently stood in queues for hours in order to get their copies signed. It's wonderful to see something like that, as they confirm that people in Serbia are interested in reading.

According to Vesna Mihailovic, the director of Delfi Bookstores, such events are the best proof of book publishing still being alive in Serbia, and the fact that Delfi has more and more bookstores, employees, partners and satisfied customers each year also supports this.

In her interview with eKapija, Mihailovic announces the opening of a new bookstore in Belgrade in a prestigious location, which will also have additional features, and she also points out that there's a plan to expand the business to include new sectors.

Delfi's was recently awarded for its successful operations with the Superbrands 2018 acknowledgment.

eKapija: How many bookstores does the Delfi chain currently feature and what makes them stand out from the competition?

– Delfi now has 41 bookstores and gift shops in 21 cities and towns in Serbia. The first thing that everyone who walks into any Delfi store in Serbia notices is the ambiance, which can stand shoulder to shoulder with the biggest global bookstore chains, and the next positive impression is the communication with the staff, who are very knowledgeable and able to give excellent recommendations. Furthermore, almost each fairly large city in Serbia now has a bookstore thanks to our chain – Mihailovic says.

eKapija: What is the range of books that Delfi offers and which categories do they belong to? What kind of literature is the most read?

– Delfi cooperates with over 1,000 suppliers, and we also have hundreds of regular partners. Our SKC bookstore is the only one which can offer all titles issued by local publishers at any moment. We also have an excellent cooperation with the leading British publishers, such as Penguin, Harper Collins, PanMacmillan, Transworld. The most read categories are, of course, fiction and books for children, and the fantasy audience is especially faithful, as is the audience for high literature.

Parallel to the rich offer of books, which make up 80% of our products, our bookstores also offer a gift program, decorative cardboard products and office stationery, video-games and tickets for all concerts, plays and other cultural events. They are known as an excellent place to shop for gifts, and our gift program is in fact the second best selling segment in our offer.

eKapija: How much do people shop through your online store?

– We offer 100,000 articles at books, comics, magazines, school books, music, films, gifts... There's a progressive increase in online shopping through our store, especially when discounts are in effect, such as during the Book Night. Thanks to a wide offer and quick delivery, but also the safe shopping provided by our site, we can say that online sales comprise a considerable part of our total sales and that people from Serbia are used to this form of shopping, whether they're shopping from the country or from abroad.

eKapija: How many people does Delfi employ? Do you plan to employ new workers?

– The Delfi bookstore chain currently employs more than 350 people. Naturally, as new bookstores open, we will employ more people, and we also plan to expand our business to other sectors, which will help us enhance our operations.

eKapija: How do you rate the business results in the past period?

– Our motto is that we can always do better and we keep setting our goals higher and higher. We always want to be better than we currently are, as our goal is to enhance the culture of reading, to help bring up new generations of readers, to have books take their rightful place in our consciousness and to raise the level of bookstores in general.

Accordingly, so far, each year has been better than the previous one. The number of bookstores has grown year by year, as has the number of employees, partners and satisfied customers. Each year, we follow world trends and transfer them to our business system and our offer, thereby also enhancing our operations. All in all, whenever our business is moving upward, it means that we're putting in more work and effort which leads to such results. We are proud of the fact that our bookstores are similar to the leading bookstores in Europe, while at the same time preserving the warmth of small bookstores and their culture of communication with readers.

eKapija: Does Delfi plan new investments and in which segments?

– The planned investments pertain to the opening of new bookstores, new employments, innovations in the concept in bookstores and the development of new sectors, which will enable us to see where our business can by fine-tuned even further. Potential investments, then, pertain to the micro and the macro business plans. We dedicate ourselves most actively to keeping our readers happy and faithful.

eKapija: You have revived the publishing business in our country and preserved hope that books will not lose the primacy to other segments. Does your mission continue?

– Of course. We are open about the fact that one can overhear in casual conversations that our bookstores have become synonymous with bookstores in general, that people feel good in them and that that's why they keep coming back. We are also aware that we have powerful channels of communication at our disposal and that, thanks to our founder, Laguna, we can count on support from local writers, so that we can promote reading together.
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