Source: Promo | Tuesday, 15.11.2022.| 15:45
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Zoran Daljevic, Director of Representative Office of Atlantic Grupa for Serbia – Our Aim is for New Products, Brands and Selectively Chosen Markets to Become New Sources of Company Growth

(Photo: Darko Radulović)
This year, Atlantic Grupa has continued innovating traditional brands, but also launching new products, and recently, for the third time in a row, it was awarded at the conference “Challenge of Change”, which gathers the financial community in the region.

Recognition is an incentive, but also an obligation, the director of the Representative Office of Atlantic Grupa for Serbia, Zoran Daljevic, says in his interview for the eKapija portal and reveals that the company has decided, in the conditions of the high inflation and the major shock to the living standards of the consumers, to absorb a significant part of the price increase.

We are getting closer to the end of the year which has been challenging for many companies. What has marked the year for Atlantic Grupa?

– To put is as briefly as possible, at the beginning of the year, we were already facing inflation trends and logistics problems which were a consequence of the pandemic, and then we also faced the new geopolitical situation and the war in Ukraine, which only boosted the inflation and accelerated the growth of the operating costs. However, thanks to the good business results and strategy, we entered this year as a financially stable company, which enabled us, despite said challenges, to continue investments in the development of our business and in people at an unreduced rate. Concretely, the essence of our business this year as well has been to innovate traditional brands along with the finding of new sources of growth and internationalization, as well as the disinvesting of smaller business, so in mid-2022, a strategic partner was found for Palanacki Kiseljak.

On the other hand, guided by the preferences of the consumers, this year we launched new products, such as Cockta Blondie, Argeta vegetable spreads, Bakina Tajna with a new chapter of good old flavors, Cedevita Pink Grejp in a symbolic pink packaging, setting aside, within our CSR campaign, a part of the funds for fighting breast cancer. Also, in the year of our 100th anniversary, we launched a full innovation of key Stark brands such as Najlepse Zelje, Bananica, Smoki, and in the category of Starkovi Keksici and Napolitanke, a packaging redesign was done, based on the new Stark logo with the recognizable heart, as well as the improvement of the formulas of the existing products. I can exclusively announce an innovation that Grand Kafa has prepared in the category of traditional coffee. This is a world premiere, as yet unseen combination of the flavors of two drinks which are characteristic for our area. Due to the specific production technology, this is a limited series of products, which we are sure will cause great interest among the consumers and provide them with a whole new experience in consuming home-made coffee.

In this year, we also grew as a distributor, with new principals, so the cooperation with Intersnack, which has a wide range of products such as crisps with various flavors, tortilla crisps, baked snacks and popcorn, with the famous Chio brand, started in Serbia. Also, the successful cooperation in Serbia with Red Bull also expanded to North Macedonia.

Observed by the achieved results, in the first nine months of this year, the income grew in all the business and distribution areas, but the considerable increase in the prices of ingredients, packaging materials, energy and services, had an expected impact on the reduced profitability. We consider it a decent thing to do to absorb a significant part of the price increase as a company, in the conditions of the high inflation and the major shock to the living standard of our consumers, which we have done. As the year moves along, we also expect an unobstructed process of production and supply of our customers, but worry regarding the consumers, their preferences and their purchasing power certainly remains, because the increase of the costs of living and the inflation in general continue to grow at a great speed.

How much does the energy crisis affect the realization of your goals in terms of sustainability and environmental protection?

– For years now, Atlantic Grupa has been building and improving its system of the management of environmental protection and the energy efficiency of its business operations in an attempt to contribute, as much as possible, to preserving the natural resources and the environment we operate in. The aims of sustainable development, which we have set before the company, have become, from this year, a part of the business strategies of all our business areas, with clearly defined tasks for this year, which, in the final realization, represent the reduction of the negative impact on the environment through the saving of energy, water and gas, with the application of the most environmentally-friendly materials in all technological processes. Also, by planning the tours and using the “Transport Management System Option”, we optimize the use of fuel on the company level, whereby the minimum consumption of fuel is realized in our vehicles and our partners’ vehicles. So, our goals of sustainable development and business rationalization on all levels are in line with the efforts and recommendation to reduce the consumption of energy on the global level. Also, the preparation of the study “AG Solar Road Map” has been finished, creating the basis for the future investment cycle in the construction of solar power plants in the locations of Atlantic Grupa.

Recently, Atlantic Grupa was awarded for the third time in a row at the conference “Challenge of Change”, which gathers the financial community in the region. How much does this acknowledgment, awarded for the best relations with investors, mean to you?

– Atlantic Grupa has received this award for the third time in a row, in the years which have been turbulent and uncertain for all, in every respect. We are glad that it has been recognized that, even under such circumstances, Atlantic Grupa has kept its high level of professional conduct, quality business reporting and transparency. This award is at the same time an obligation and an incentive to us to keep putting the maximum effort in maintaining the high level of excellence in all our relations with investors in the years ahead of us.

One of the favorite brands in Serbia, Stark, presented a new logo on the occasion of the 100th anniversary. Are any other changes planned when it comes to the well-known brands of Atlantic Grupa?

– That need to explore and constantly re-examine oneself in relation to the consumers’ desires and trends is what brings the biggest value to a business nowadays. At Atlantic Grupa, we are inspired by the desire to find new ways of always surprising and delighting our consumers, as we are aware that consumer habits and needs change and that we, as a company, need to be curious and discover new opportunities and new markets. Our aim is for new products, brands and selectively chosen markets to become new sources of company growth and the foundation of the business operations in the future, so the development part within each production program is carried out as a regular activity and upgrades are being sought practically all the time. I have already talked about the new products we have launched in this year alone, and things will continue that way in the future, because our focus is not just to retail our leading position in the key categories, but also the desire to further improve them and make them even more important.

What are the company’s further plans in Serbia?

– Although we have before us a great uncertainty regarding the escalation of the war conflicts and the economic crisis, we are continuing with our planned capital investments, because we are sure that it is only with an increase in efficiency and productivity that we can remain competitive, despite the growing inflation and economic turbulences. Today, Stark’s products are exported to 40 countries of the world, Stark is a brand that is developing very well and expanding to the German, Austrian and Swiss markets and I believe that we will manage to realize the planned investment in the new facility for the production of Smoki, because Smoki is a leader in the flips segment and an important pillar of our business, and over 50% of the production is exported. The plan is for the total capital investments to exceed EUR 80 million as of 2025, and so far we have already invested a half of that sum. Last year, the investment of EUR 8.5 million in state-of-the-art chocolate production line was completed, which will contribute to numerous innovations in Stark’s range of chocolate products. The installing of new production equipment on lines for the Napolitanke product in Belgrade and for biscuits in Ljubovija is in progress, which will improve the quality of the finished products and enable innovations, which will provide a new experience in those categories to the consumers.

Also, as the largest producer of coffee in the region, we are continuing to strengthen and improve the leading positions in the coffee segment, here in Serbia, under the Grand Kafa and Bonito brands, primarily by renewing the category of fresh ground coffee and developing the segment of consumption outside of households.

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