Monday, 2 March 2020

AD Plastik, Air Traffic Control, Lidl Win Deloitte Green Frog Awards

ZAGREB, March 2, 2020 - AD Plastik, the Croatian Air Traffic Control, and Lidl Croatia have won the Deloitte Green Frog awards for the best sustainability report, progress in reporting, and originality in reporting in 2019, Deloitte Croatia announced.

The AD Plastik Group won the Green Frog Award 2019, awarded by Deloitte Croatia for the best sustainability report, and this year the Croatian Employers Association (HUP) and Global Compact Network Croatia joined the jury as full members.

The award for progress in reporting was also presented, and it was won by the Croatian Air Traffic Control. Also, the award for originality in reporting was given for the first time, and it was won by Lidl Croatia.

The awards ceremony was held at the "Employment with impact" conference, organised by Deloitte, HUP, and Global Compact Network Croatia.

The Deloitte audit director and head of the Green Frog Initiative Ivana Turjak Čebohin pointed out that the social accountability, environmental and human rights awareness was increasing.

"These trends on the contemporary market have caused positive changes in Croatia, and the number of companies publishing non-financial reports is growing every year. Non-financial reporting is beneficial both to those companies which are legally obliged to do it, and to those who are not," emphasised Čebohin.

The advisor for sustainable development and socially responsible business in HUP and Global Compact Network Croatia Executive Director Vali Marszalek said that companies were becoming more aware of the fact that, in order to maximise benefits and create long-term value for their business, they had to take into account not only shareholders' expectations, but also the expectations of suppliers, employees, buyers, consumers, and local communities.

"The subject of this year's conference, the employment of disabled persons, is extremely important for the business sector, especially as we are talking about the enormous potential of billions of people across the globe who, due to their circumstances, have to develop skills such as persistence, problem solving, innovative thinking, and readiness to experiment in order to adapt to the world around them," emphasised Marszalek.

On behalf of the AD Plastik Group, the award was accepted by the chair of the board for socially responsible business, Zoja Crnecki, who said that socially responsible business was a part of the company's business model and one of the most important components of its development policy.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Business People Must Be Cautious, But There's No Reason to Panic over Coronavirus

ZAGREB, February 27, 2020 - The national civil protection authority on Thursday informed business people, members of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), about measures that are being taken with regard to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and its possible impact on the national economy, noting that there is no reason to panic.

*Follow this page for updates from Total Croatia News on the coronavirus in Croatia. Contact numbers for epidemiologists, travel advisories and measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus can be found here.

The head of the national civil protection authority, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, said that the authority would keep providing business people with information of relevance for their business.

Božinović said that maximum effort was being invested in reducing possible losses and sending a message that Croatia, as the current EU chair, functions in the current situation as it should.

HGK president Luka Burilović said that the HGK was in touch with companies and was following the situation on the ground.

The situation is not alarming for now, companies are trying to adapt and for the time being they are not reporting any significant problems, he said.

He added that the HGK was in touch with retail chains which had prepared for increased sales in recent days.

Burilović said that it was difficult to assess how much the situation would affect the national economy.

He said that the HGK and the national civil protection authority were defining recommendations for companies on how to act in emergency situations and that recommendations would also be made for individual sectors in the event of major problems.

The head of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Krunoslav Čapak, said that it was rather difficult to control arrivals and departures of foreign nationals in Croatia which happened on a daily basis.

"We are doing our best to minimise the risks," he said, adding that the current estimate was that borders should not be closed, including for business entities.

A general recommendation will be published today for business entities regarding the situation with the coronavirus, it was said at the meeting.

The head of the HGK Hauliers Association, Darko Vukadinović, said that the situation with hauliers had its specificities.

"There is practically only one border crossing towards Italy, with which we work the most, and the situation on the Slovenian side of the border is already chaotic," he said, adding that several Croatian truck drivers had been advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

"What happens with the truck and the goods in that case is still unclear," he said, adding that there was already a shortage of workers in that sector and that the situation now was even more difficult.

The head of the HGK Small Shipbuilders Association, Boris Vukušić, believes the circulation of people is the biggest problem as domestic workers are leased mostly to Italian shipyards in the north of the country.

We are cautious and there will certainly be disruptions in business, which will impact revenues, he said, expressing hope there would be no major financial losses.

We must not panic but look for markets elsewhere, he said.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Business section.

*Follow this page for updates from Total Croatia News on the coronavirus in Croatia. Contact numbers for epidemiologists, travel advisories and measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus can be found here.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Atlantic Grupa Posts 390.4 Million Kuna Net Profit in 2019

ZAGREB, February 27, 2020 - Atlantic Grupa generated HRK 5.43 billion in sales revenue in 2019, an increase of 3.4% on the year, while net profit rose by 59.8% to HRK 390.4 million, the food company said in a financial statement on Thursday.

Operating profit (EBIT) in 2019 amounted to HRK 500.4 million, an increase of 36.4% compared with 2018.

Without one-off items and changes in accounting standards based on comparison, operating profit increased by 13.1% and net profit was up by 28.9%, the company said.

"Atlantic Grupa concluded 2109 with the historically highest revenue and profit. The year was exceptionally successful for us and we saw the year end as a stable, financial prosperous and low indebted company with an empowered management and a clear vision for the future," the company's CEO Emil Tedeschi said.

The increase in sales was mainly driven by the strategic business areas "Savoury Spreads", with a 7.7% growth, and "Beverages", with a 5.2% growth. With HRK 1.13 billion in sales and a 20.9% share in total revenues, "Coffee" stood out as the largest individual category.

All markets recorded growth in distribution operations, and the most significant growth was recorded on the Croatian market, of 8.2%, followed by increased sales in Slovenia, of 3.7%.

Own brands accounted for 64.1% of the total sales, the brands of the principals in distribution accounted for 27.5%, and the Farmacia pharmacy chain participated with 8.3%.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

AmCham: Croatia Lags Behind Other Countries in Region

ZAGREB, February 26, 2020 - Business conditions in Croatia are better compared to last year, but Croatia lags behind other countries in the region, show the results of an American Chamber (AmCham) Croatia survey on the business environment in Croatia, presented on Wednesday.

"Although a significant number of respondents rated their business experience in Croatia as average (43%), when compared to 2018, there is an increase of positive business experience in Croatia, which was 49% in 2019, as well as a decrease of the negative experience. Also, 52% of the respondents have noticed improvement of business conditions in the last five years," AmCham Croatia Executive Director Andrea Doko Jelušić said while presenting the survey, which was conducted on a sample of 111 board members of domestic and international companies in Croatia, from 16 December 2019 to 13 February 2020.

The survey shows that 67% of the respondents assessed their business results in 2019 as positive, while 55% reported an increase in the number of employees.

"Indications for the future are also positive. Around 80% of the companies plan to expand their business in Croatia, while only 2% plan a possible reduction of business," said Doko Jelušić, adding that around 71% of the companies planned to hire new employees in the next three years.

However, the survey shows that, despite progress, Croatia is lagging behind other countries in the region.

"Despite certain improvements in the assessment of the business environment, comparison with other countries in Central and Eastern Europe shows that half of the respondents rated business conditions in Croatia as worse than in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and only 13% considered them better," said the AmCham Board of Governors President Ruža Tomić Fontana.

The respondents highlighted taxation of labour, lack of adequate workforce and high business taxes as the three main limiting factors for their business in 2019.

"During the last few years, we have seen four rounds of tax reform. It has somewhat surprised us that labour taxation is again high on the list of the limiting factors for business in Croatia," said Doko Jelušić.

One has to take into account the fact that other countries have also worked on their business environment, Doko Jelušić said, mentioning that Romania and Bulgaria have labour taxation of around 10%, the Czech Republic from 20% to 23%, and Slovakia from 19% to 25%. Those countries are considerably more competitive than Croatia, which at this moment has an initial personal income tax rate of 24%, as well as the higher personal income tax rate of 36% on annual incomes of more than €48,000, she noted.

The respondents said the greatest disadvantages of Croatia compared to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe were the small size of the market, level of taxation and slow administration.

AmCham Croatia represents the business interests of over 250 American, Croatian and other international companies which employ over 88,000 people in Croatia.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Taxpayers' Association Against Ban on Sunday Work

ZAGREB, February 25, 2020 - The taxpayers' association Lipa is against a ban on Sunday work because it would have a negative impact on the economy, the association's representatives said at a news conference on Tuesday, presenting Lipa's Competitiveness Barometer.

By presenting the Competitiveness Barometer the association wants to promote the process of adoption of decisions on economic policies in Croatia.

Lipa president Davor Huić said that Croatia's long-term growth potential was below one percent and that some of the reasons were the inefficiency of the public sector, high taxes, and a poor business climate.

"There is no strong focus on economic growth, many governments do not work on that at all," he said.

Huić noted that emigration would be stopped if Croatia were to reach 80% of the EU average standard of living.

"Croatia has been lagging behind EU member states that joined the bloc in 2005 for 15 years. We responded wrongly to the crisis in the period between 2009 and 2014. Other countries adapted to it much better. Our goal must be to reach 80% of the EU average standard of living by 2030. This and any future government will have to work for that to happen," he said.

While Croatia is at 60% of the average EU standard of living, countries that joined the EU in 2004 are at 75%, Huić said, noting that the country's economy growing at a rate of one percent would keep motivating people to emigrate and make Croatia a poor country.

One of the problems is that too few people work, he said.

A professor of political economy at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, Kristijan Kotarski, believes that restricting Sunday work would have a negative impact on Croatia's position in the global competitiveness ranking.

It could redirect consumption onto mostly foreign-owned online platforms, as well as cause a part of turnover to spill over to neighbouring countries, he said.

Kotarski also mentioned the significant impact of tourism and commerce on the national economy, noting that Croatia's economy was more dependent on commerce than other EU countries.

As for planned changes to the Commerce Act that would introduce restrictions on Sunday work and allow shops to work 8 to 12 Sundays a year, he said that they would only lead to confusion among domestic and foreign consumers.

He recalled that two bans on Sunday work had already been introduced but were abolished by the Constitutional Court as well as that Hungary in 2015 banned Sunday work, only to reintroduce it in 2016.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Pevec Household Hardware Chain Renamed to Pevex

ZAGREB, February 13, 2020 - The Pevec household hardware chain has changed its name to Pevex, the chairman of the chain's management board Jurica Lovrinčević told a press conference on Thursday.

The decision was made in order to distance the chain from the name of the previous owners, Lovrinčević explained. The founders and former owners, Zdravko and Višnja Pevec, were sentenced in 2015 for abuse of powers and financial wrongdoing.

Lovrinčević added that over the past four years the chain had undergone a huge business transformation and now had 2,000 employees compared to the previous 1,100 in more than 10 stores, and revenue had increased from €148 million to €283 million.

It is hoped that the name change and minor visible changes will be more attractive to younger consumers and that the new brand will mean a new beginning, Lovrinčević added and that the rebranding will cost about €1.35 million.

The chain plans to open smaller stores in towns with about 10,000 residents but currently there are no plans to expand outside of Croatia.

A new store is expected to be opened in the northern Adriatic city of Pula at the end of this year, which is an investment of €4.05 million and another store in Vinkovci in eastern Croatia valued at €5.4 million.

Lovrinčević underscores that the company is not experiencing a shortage of workers as the average net wage has been increased by 38% in the past three years. The average wage in Pevex today is HRK 6,800 (€918) while the minimum net wage is HRK 5,000 (€675) a month.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Đuro Đaković Group Must Undergo Restructuring, Find Strategic Partner

ZAGREB, January 23, 2020 - Economy Minister Darko Horvat said on Thursday that the Đuro Đaković metal and mechanical engineering group, which is expected to receive today a loan in the amount of 150 million kuna, did have prospects but that it had to make a plan for its overhaul and find a strategic partner.

Asked about the Slavonski Brod-based company, which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is expected to visit today, Horvat told reporters after a meeting of the inner cabinet that the company would use the 150 million kuna loan to pay a part of its financial obligations.

"... a part of the debt to suppliers will be paid, as will debts to the state, and the company will get an opportunity to buy goods and materials and carry out three existing contracts, which are expected to secure the company additional liquidity in the amount of 128 million kuna by the end of April," Horvat said, adding that the company did have prospects but that it had to make a programme for its restructuring, which would have to be approved by the European Commission.

He stressed that the company had to find a strategic partner and that the strategic partnership would have to be closely monitored.

Asked how realistic finding a strategic partner was, Horvat said that he would not discuss it in public if he did not believe that it was possible.

The government last week decided to provide a state guarantee for a 300 million kuna loan for Đuro Đaković Group, Đuro Đaković Special Vehicles and Đuro Đaković Industrial Solutions.

A total of 150 million, to be secured as a loan from the Croatian Reconstruction and Development Bank or other commercial banks in the country and/or abroad, is intended to help unblock the group's account, launch production and enable the execution of existing contracts, as well as the payment of liabilities to financial institutions and the state.

The remaining 150 million will be used as operating assets for production in Đuro Đaković Special Vehicles.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Croatian Producers Sell 74 Million Euro Worth of Products Through SPAR

ZAGREB, January 19, 2020 - Croatian producers sold 74 million euro worth of products through the SPAR retail chain in Italy, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia in 2019, which is 5% more than in 2018, SPAR Croatia said in a statement this past week.

The largest increase in sales was recorded in Italy.

It was not just large companies, but also medium-sized and small businesses that successfully marketed their products through SPAR's retail network.

Among the large producers were the food company Vindija, the aquaculture company Cromaris, confectioner Kraš and the hygienic products company Logistika Violeta.

Vindija increased its exports to Slovenia by 16%, Cromaris' exports to Austria and Slovenia rose by 13% and 17% respectively, Kras saw its exports to Slovenia grow by 3%, while Logistika Violeta increased its exports to Austria by 19%.

Small and medium-sized enterprises also recorded increased exports.

Prosciutto producer Pršut Voštane recorded an increase in exports to Slovenia of as much as 62%, while the Ekos bakery chain saw its exports rise nearly fourfold. Pisinium, a company that makes premium truffle sausages, increased its exports to Slovenia by 95%, while the Zigante Tartufi company's exports to Italy rose by 14%.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Government Provides State Guarantee for 300 Million Đuro Đaković Loan

ZAGREB, January 16, 2020 - The government decided on Thursday to provide a state guarantee for a 300 million kuna loan for the Đuro Đaković metal and mechanical engineering group Đuro Đaković Special Vehicles and Đuro Đaković Industrial Solutions.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the guarantee was being provided because the company was important for Brod-Poslavina County and its "stumbling" would affect the county's economic and social situation.

Đuro Đaković has four subsidiaries and employs about 850 people, he said, adding that the European Commission had been notified.

"With this decision, we are giving Đuro Đaković a chance and will see to it that it is adequately carried out in the days and weeks ahead," Plenković said.

Economy Minister Darko Horvat said the company was unable to ensure stable financing, notably since mid-2019, when a bank which financed the production of goods wagons cancelled further cooperation. This prompted Đuro Đaković to seek a 300 million kuna bailout.

Horvat said the decision to provide the state guarantee "represents support for a bailout in line with rules on state aid and European Commission guidelines on state aid."

The loan will be used over a six-month period and not after December 31, he added.

More news about Đuro Đaković can be found in the Business section.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Croatian Peruvian Returns to Homeland Starts Design Business

Dragitza is a brilliant young Croatian Peruvian who decided to seek a better life in her homeland. She started her own business, has a stand-up comedy act and is a finalist on a popular TV cooking show.

Founder of Puro Amor Design in Zagreb

You may not have heard of Dragitza Rastegorac yet, but you have probably heard of the brand Puro Amor Design, which has been selling cups with wacky and personalized labels for a while. This 29-year-old was born and raised in Peru, but her Croatian roots brought her back to the region her family came from. She recently spoke to Veronika Švob/SUPER1/Telegram about life in Zagreb, her first job, stand-up comedy and her current business over coffee at Cogito Café on Deželićeva Ulica.

Dragitza was born and spent 26 years of her life in Lima, the capital of Peru. Her father is originally from Kupres and her mother is from Bugojno, so when she turned nine, she had the opportunity to spend two years in Croatia before returning to Peru again. After graduating from high school and college in Lima, Dragitza decided that she no longer wanted to live Peru and decided to come to Croatia.


Puro Amor Design | Facebook

Left Corruption and Poverty in Peru for Better Croatian Life

"After graduation, I didn't even look for a job there, but came to Zagreb. The people of Lima most often go to Argentina to look for work or further education, but I did not want to go that route. Something drew me to Croatia.”

She claims that it was not because of the people and adds that the Peruvians are very warm and know how to socialize with others, but Lima is a very unsafe place to live.

"There is so much poverty, and corruption which does not benefit people at all, and I simply felt that I did not belong there. While I was growing up, we often spent time in Croatian emigrant social circles. Most of those Croats had arrived in Peru after the Second World War and were already third generation. I am second generation, for example.”

“I studied communication science, and the course of study is quite different than that in Croatia. I learned a lot about advertising and graphic design. After I completed my degree, I applied for a scholarship in Croatia, which was not difficult to get, because there are plenty of openings. I think the goal is to encourage Croatians to eventually return from abroad. Not all of them stay, of course, and some only come for a year or two.”

She first came alone, lived in a dormitory on the Sava, and met a lot of people from Peru, Argentina and Canada at that time.

Studied Croatian As Scholarship Student in Croaticum

“I studied Croatian through the Croaticum program at the Filozofski Fakultet (Faculty of Philosophy) and it was quite challenging, but I believe it is currently the best program for learning Croatian. It was not my first contact with the Croatian language because I came here at the age of nine and went to school here for two years.”

She spoke Spanish all her life, but what she had learned as a child helped her a lot. "The Croatian language is very difficult, it is really demanding, especially when it comes to the cases. I can't compare it to Spanish at all.”

She speaks Croatian very well today, adding that she still messes up the cases sometimes. After her classes ended, she stayed in Croatia for another month before returning to Lima. But then she came back to after half a year and knew then that she wanted to stay Croatia. "I had a great roommate from Slavonski Brod and met a lot of foreigners, somehow it all fell into place."

First Job as Manager at Museum of Illusions

"My first job in Zagreb was at the Museum of Illusions. I saw an ad saying that they were looking for someone who spoke English and that Spanish was an advantage. I applied for this job thinking that I would be the guide in the museum, not run the whole museum. However, it turned out that I became manager of the museum and stayed there for about a year.”

She points out that it was no problem for her to get the job, and that she rejected as many as two offers in the meantime.

"Many thought I got the job through a relationship, but I really didn't. After a year at the museum I was working on another project for them, but it didn't work out very well and I was glad when I got fired. Everyone around me was amazed to see that I kept a smile on my face, but I just had to.”

She had her own business plan in mind by then, or rather she had just begun thinking about it, but hadn’t done anything yet.


Puro Amor Design | Facebook

Created Business Plan Out of Love for Collecting Cups

She first came up with the idea of making cups because she collected them. “I was constantly searching for cups with Croatian inscriptions and could not find them anywhere. Now there are several cups, but at that time I couldn't find anything interesting.” It occurred to her to start making them herself, so she began with drawings, and was somewhat inspired by the Spanish brand Mr. Wonderful, which does similar work in all languages. "So, I started and showed my friend some ideas and she really liked them.

"My dad lent me money to print the first 250 pieces, I opened a Paušalni obrt (or lump sum business – I still don't know exactly what that means, but I am a lump sum) and started the business.”

After she reached out to the Instagram profile @zagrebfacts as it offered her a lot of Zagreb slang expressions; people started inquiring. "That was two years ago, I remember that I had sold almost a hundred pieces in just a few days. That early success fueled my motivation to continue. "

After that, she bought her first printer, then a second and third. She started her business in a room in a rented apartment and eventually moved it into the living room. "My emphasis is on personalized mugs, and I offer customers five options to choose from. Then Mother's Day came, and the business simply swelled to such an extent that shops started contacting me with their orders.” Then the media became interested and there were competitions. She even tried to work with Croatian influencers, but that did not progress. However, she had the great fortune of opening a showroom in on Jurišićeva Ulica.

Opened Puro Amor Design Shop on Jurišićeva Ulica

"I am here alone most of the time. My best friend helps me, and everything goes from production to sale here." Although she started with cups, she began producing canvas bags and feathers last February, and next February she expects to continue with t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. Now she is making a decent living. "I do not expect to make a fortune, but I think something like this was needed in Croatia. At least that’s how it turned out for now.” You can follow Puro Amor Design on Facebook and Instagram.

Moonlighting as Stand-Up Comedienne at Studio Smijeha

She also took acting classes in Peru and was part of an acting ensemble, Dragitza has a few plays behind her. "This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go to America after college. I even auditioned for the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, which is quite demanding but too expensive, so I gave up. It was a good confirmation to me that I have talent, so when I came to Zagreb, I enrolled in Studio Kubus, but realized that it was quite difficult for me to act in Croatian.”

Shortly after, she found a stand-up workshop at Studio smijeha (Studio of Laughs) and decided to go there.

"Marina Orsag told me that I was very endearing, that I had a super accent, and advised me to write some text. She soon asked me when I was planning on performing on open mic, and although I was excited, I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it. The show turned out great, and the crowd was roaring with laughter. The topics revolved around my parents, life in Zagreb, about being told that I’d never find a job here, and about some of my observations as a foreigner."

She also draws his inspiration from her love life, which she says is totally chaotic. "Well, I borrow stories from girlfriends, funny down-to-earth stories but I'm pretty focused on women's topics. From PMS to the gynecologist.” She doesn't write as often as she would like but hopes to hold a new performance every month. "A lot of people come to listen to stand-up, it's brilliant to realize that you can make people laugh. I'm an optimistic person and see good things in everyone. I'm a positive person by nature."

In her free time, she goes to Praćka for karaoke, while she chooses Katran for dancing. "Well, that was a bit of a shock to me. In Peru, you dance wherever you go but there’s nothing here. It's so hard to get people to move around here. And at first, I went to Latin American dance events, because I missed them so much.”


Dragitza Rastegorac | Facebook

Made it to Semi Finals on Popular Cooking TV Show

She loves to cook, mostly Peruvian cuisine, and her mom sends her spices regularly to make those dishes work. "We eat very spicy foods, and prepare meat for a long time, and coriander and yellow chili are my favorite spices." She admits he does not excel in preparing fish. In Peru, raw fish, known as ceviche, is one of the most famous dishes. "From Croatian cuisine, I love pate, beans and greens and Istrian specialties which my roommate’s mom sends." Dragitza also recently made it to the semi-finals on the TV show Kuhan i pečen (Cooked and Baked).

"She likes the pace of life here. Zagreb is not that big of a city and I can get everything done in one day. The only sad thing for me is that Croatians want to leave the country and they often tell me that I won’t stay here for very long. I don't think they appreciate what they have, but I don't know. And it wasn't that easy for me to start this adventure. There were days when I only sold one or two cups, but if you are persistent and if you work hard, there is no door that won’t open. Croatians do not consider the option of starting their own business after graduation, while that is common practice in Peru. If you don't find a job, you can figure out one out for yourself. I have a dozen more ideas, but don't have time for everything.”

Well, Dragitza is a good example of commitment all the way to the finish line, and nothing can stop her. She's truly inspirational.

Follow our Made in Croatia page and Diaspora page to keep updated on Croatia returnees, their business ventures and successes.

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