Juicy is the first step, we will have new brands in three years
The Stanić brothers have developed from a small family company into serious distributors, and with the new acquisition - the purchase of Juicy from Agrokor - they entered in a big style the world of production of non-alcoholic drinks. For Večernji list, after several years of silence in the media, Mr.Svjetlan Stanić, who leads the business of Stanić Group, talks about his business plans with Juicy, announces new employment both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
You have made the biggest acquisition in 2013 in the food sector. What Droga Kolinska and Atlantic Grupa was then, this year, we could say, is Stanić Group and Juicy ...
I would not exactly compare the acquisition of Juicy with the takeover of Droga Kolinska, maybe a better comparison would be, when mentioning Atlantic Group, their acquisition of Cedevita. We fought a long time. We have been in the distribution of beverages since 1995 and since then we have planned to also have a production one day.
Two years ago we tried to buy Fructal, which was at the end taken over by the Serbian company Nektar who has offered more than we evaluated it to be logical in terms of business. Last year we competed for Pago and in the finals lost to the internationally strong Granini. This year we got in contact with Agrokor and Mr. Ivica Todorić, conducted preliminary talks, agreed on our mutual interests and in a relatively short time found a common ground to finalize the agreement.
What did you purchase for 45 million euros?
We have purchased the factory in Jastrebarsko, which will continue with the production for Croatia and the export to EU countries. We also bought a second factory, which was planned for construction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Kreševo. It is a greenfield investment that will be realized in 2014, and which will allow the expansion of the product range also in those segments where Juicy is not yet present, where we see perspectives.
Did you not also purchase a part of the company Sarajevski Kiseljak?
No, that is misinformation. We purchased a part of the property which was supposed to be owned by Sarajevski Kiseljak.
Are you going to move the production from Croatia?
Absolutely not. The factory in Croatia will continue its work for the needs of the Croatian market and the market of the European Union, and the factory in Bosnia and Herzegovina will very powerfully supply the domestic market, as well as the CEFTA countries.
How much does the Croatian market take part in the total sales of Juicy, and how much does the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Croatia carries 65 per cent of sales, Bosnia and Herzegovina around 30 per cent, and all other countries around 5 per cent. This is why we see great potential in the countries of the region because there we can significantly increase sales and develop the brand.
Are the employees in Croatia safe and will there be possibilities for employment?
The employees in Croatia are safe. As we have to allocate one part of common services from Jamnica, there will be even new employments. In Bosnia and Herzegovina we will open a new production plant and there will certainly be new employments. 50-70 people will get employed.
Are you afraid of the entry into production or is this a challenge for you?
Distribution is much more than just placing the product on the shelves. Over the past twenty years of work with the biggest international companies and brands, we have adopted many global knowledge and skills, have applied them locally, have gained extensive experience in all segments of trade business. The essential difference between distribution and production is that in the first case you get a final product that you do not have any influence in, and now we have the ability and responsibility in the creation of or own products. It is, of course, a big challenge, but I am deeply convinced that we can do a good job. With our family business we have gained experience in production because my younger brother has three factories in Bosnia and Herzegovina and so I see that as a producer you have a lot more options in business than as only a distributor.
In business circles, Agrokor and the Todorićs are recognized as tough negotiators. What are your experiences?
I would not agree that they are tough negotiators. Our companies cooperate for decades. Negotiations are always the art of the possible, and what is important is that both sides through clearly defined requirements also show respect for the other side. I have negotiated with Ivan Todorić, and, despite all challenges, we became also friends through this process.
Nektar is reportedly in business problems. If you had the chance, would you once again try to buy Fructal?
I regret that we did not manage to take over Fructal. However, the acquisition is not the end, but the beginning and it remains to be seen what will happen with Fructal. As for further acquisitions, anything is possible, but first Juicy has to be structured, which we have big plans with. We plan to expand the product range to a lot more brands in the next three years in other segments and types of production.
Is it easier to do business in Croatia or in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
I am present on both markets, as well as my two brothers, and we are quite familiar with the business conditions on both markets. Unfortunately, I have to say that although it was much easier to work in Croatia during the pre-crisis period, ie until 2008, today I would no longer give it that much advantage. There are huge difficulties in payments and generally in business because the Croatian business scene with the market decline as a whole has become an extremely demanding and tense environment.
How does the state relate to entrepreneurs? In the media one could read that Bosnia and Herzegovina has started with tax debt controls as well and that the Stanićs had a millions debt....
You know yourself of all the problems businessmen have and there is no need to repeat them. I live in Croatia, so it is hard for me to keep track of the political storms in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to comment on the articles in the media, but I declare under full responsibility that none of my companies has any tax debts, neither in Croatia nor in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
You are socially active as Honorary Consul of South Korea for Bosnia and Herzegovina. How so?
One of my companies represents LG for Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1995 and we do it at a high level, so Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the few countries where the LG overtook Samsung. That is the reason why they have offered me the position to be Honorary Consul, which I have accepted, having known that the activities will not take too much time. My obligation is to help the citizens of South Korea if they find themselves in a problematic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but considering that these two countries are tied together mostly through tourist visits to Međugorje, I do not have too much work.
You are rarely in the media even though you have quite a big company. How do you do that?
A bad experience has taught me so. I have agreed to this interview because of correct relations at a time when it was hard for me. Normally I avoid the media and do not like to give interviews.
This bad experience is from the time of the affair "Baking lid"?
This is a story I would set aside. I might say something that would offend or anger some people.
How do you relax, what are your hobbies?