Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Confectioner Kraš Reports 64% Increase in H1 Profit

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - The Kraš confectionery group generated a net profit of HRK 21.9 million in the first half of 2021, an increase of HRK 8.6 million or 64.2% over the same period in 2020, according to its financial statement released on Wednesday.

Consolidated revenue reached HRK 488.2 million, up by HRK 30.4 million or 6.6%, with sales revenue totalling HRK 481.4 million. Sales revenue increased by 15.8% to HRK 257.7 million on the domestic market and by 9.1% to HRK 220 million on the foreign markets.

Expenditure increased by 4.2% to HRK 461.1 million. 

(€1 = HRK 7.523368)

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Monday, 4 January 2021

Strongest Croatian Brands Survived and Succeeded After Independence

January 4, 2020 – A map showing production across the former Yugoslavia details the sustained prosperity of many Croatian favourites as some of the strongest Croatian brands are shown not only to have survived but have succeeded following independence

Media across Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia have surprised younger readers and reminded older readers with the publication of a map detailing production in the former Yugoslavia. While this trip down memory lane has caused a range of reactions across the countries of the former republic, looking at the map from a purely Croatian perspective gives some enlightening information. Namely, many of the strongest Croatian brands visible on the map are recognisable today. Some of the strongest Croatian brands not only survived independence but have since grown.
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Bajadera - one of the most popular products made by Zagreb-based chocolate and confectionery manufacturers Kraš

Zagreb-based chocolate and confectionery manufacturers Kraš, Požega-based confectionery and drinks manufacturers Zvečevo, oil company INA, Koprivnica-based food company Podravka and Koprivnica-based pharmaceuticals company Belupo, vitamin drink Cedevita, Varaždin-based food company Vindija, Vukovar shoemakers Borovo, Varaždin clothes designers and manufacturers Varteks and multi-use condiment Vegeta are just some of the strongest Croatian brands that are present on the map. You are still likely to see these brand names on many Croatian high streets. Some have succeeded in reaching further into international markets since Croatian independence.

1440xauto_1474445556Vegeta_SAD_1_kg.jpgCroatian-made condiment Vegeta is sold all over the world

Of course, not every brand visible on the map of Yugoslavia production has fared so well. In their coverage of the map, Ri.portal reminds that “Some of the Yugoslav products were used by literally the whole world - ships, cars, planes, trucks, weapons and even computers were produced... However, many of these companies no longer exist or are bankrupt.”

In their coverage of the map, Bosnian website Klix reminds that Croatian shipyards Uljanik in Pula and 3 Maj in Rijeka were at world level and produced large ships for customers from all over the world. Split-based shipyard Brodosplit, which can also be seen on the map, survives to this day.
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Croatian vitamin drink Cedevita comes in a range of flavours

Ri.portal goes on to remember that Yugoslavia was one of only five countries in Europe at the time that manufactured its own computers. “Probably the most famous is the Galaxy, while the first computer produced was the CER-10,” they say. One of the Yugoslav computer makers on the map, popular in the late 1970s, was Digitron, based in Buje in Istria.

Sadly, not all of the strongest Croatian brands have made it until today. Famous tractor and agriculture equipment manufacturer Tomo Vinković of Bjelovar is no longer in production. Their famously-reliable machines are much in-demand on the secondhand market. Two new tractor manufacturers, Hittner doo and the Prima tractor factory still make tractors in Bjelovar.

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Wednesday, 4 November 2020

The Country's Biggest Export... Croatian Chocolate!?!

November 4, 2020 - Olive groves and vineyards are iconic elements of the vista on the Croatian coast. They appear frequently, as does the international recognition for the wine and olive oil they produce. This makes it all the more surprising to learn that the country's biggest export is, in fact, Croatian chocolate.

On 4 November 2020, 24 Sata reported the surprising statistics about Croatian chocolate. Their sources are agricultural and food product reports from 2018 and 2019, made by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. They state that Croatian chocolate and cocoa products were at the top of the export rankings. Croatia wine and Croatia olive oil didn't even get a look-in the top five Croatian exports – the next biggest were corn, tobacco products and then fresh and frozen fish.

Alexander Stein.jpg© Alexander Stein

The production of wine and olive oil in Croatia goes back many thousands of years. The industry for making Croatian chocolate is a baby in comparison – Europeans only encountered cacao beans in the 16th century, while exploring and colonising the Americas. Still, the production of Croatian chocolate does have quite a history.

e60d0083-3d67-46c3-9436-b3716a4e3c88_1.941968021ba08f0a357fa9ab553b7efe.jpeg
Bajadera by Zagreb's Kraš is one of the most popular boxes of Croatian chocolate to be given as a gift © Kraš

The oldest maker of Croatian chocolate is Zagreb's Kraš. The company's roots lie in three confectioners from the early 20th century. Union is the oldest chocolate manufacturer in south-east Europe (just two years after its foundation in 1911 was awarded the title of supplier to the royal court in Vienna and Budapest), Karolina, a former flour mill which switched to making biscuits and waffles in 1921 and Bizjak, founded in 1923, which made cookies and wafers. These companies, along with a number of smaller Zagreb confectionery manufacturers were merged in 1950 under the name of Kraš, in honor of Josip Kraš, a Croatian union leader and anti-fascist who was killed in World War II. Their range today includes the bars Dorina and Animal Kingdom, boxed classic Bajadera, chocolate biscuits Domaćica and the wafer bars Napolitanke and Tortica.

maxresdefault.jpgKandit's classic Rum bar, made in Osijek. Hands-down the best ultra-cheap Croatian chocolate mini-snack bar © Kandit

The second oldest company making Croatian chocolate is Kandit, which is today still based in Osijek where its parent company was established way back in 1905 as a sugar production outfit. It switched to making waffles, sweets and chocolates in the early 1920s. Its range today includes the kids' favourite Choco Banana and hands-down the best ultra-cheap Croatian chocolate mini-snack bar Rum. It's a classic. Keeping on-trend, the relatively recent No Guilt series of high-quality, no-sugar chocolate bars has made a great addition to Kandit's offer. This range is the only Croatian chocolate currently recommended by the country's diabetic association.

no-guilt-chocolate-grupna.pngKandit's No Guilt range has no added sugar and several bars with a high cacao content © Kandit

The third big player in the Croatian chocolate scene is Zvečevo, from Požega. The company traces its roots back to 1921, but its association with chocolate only really began in 1934 when Swiss company Nestle began to manufacture there (the association continued until 1995). Zvečevo is notable as having invented the combination of toasted rice and milk chocolate in a bar. Now considered a classics pairing across the world, it was first produced in 1964 in Požega under the name of the Mikado bar. As well as still making this classic of Croatian chocolate, Zvečevo now makes a dark chocolate version, chocolate for use in home cooking and a popular range of strong alcoholic drinks. It has won several awards for its ethical and eco-friendly business practices.

cms-image-000063900.jpgZvečevo's Mikado range. With Mikado, the Požega-based manufacturers were the first in the world to combine rice and chocolate © Zvečevo

Standard Croatian chocolate available on the high street can be a surprise to visitors. It has a higher content of the cheaper ingredient (sugar) than the more expensive ingredient (cacao) than many chocolates made in more westerly European countries. But, that's the way Croatians seem to like their chocolate. Well, most of them. According to a survey conducted in 2017 by the Hendal agency and JaTRGOVAC magazine, 63.5% of asked Croatians said they choose domestic chocolate products above the 36.5% who more often buy foreign chocolate products.

Nawal Escape.jpg© Nawal Escape

Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics state that in 2018 the country produced 18,799 tons of Croatian chocolate and cocoa products. Over 800 million kuna's worth of Croatian chocolate was exported in the same year. The bond between Croats and their Croatian chocolate is strong, the love heartfelt. It is no doubt this affection for confection that has prompted some of the third of Croats who go in search of foreign alternatives, for the introduction of premium chocolate ranges by the aforementioned big manufacturers of Croatian chocolate and for the rapid increase in artisan and handmade Croatian chocolatiers over recent years.

Croatian chocolate smaller and artisan producers

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Split-based Nadalina have become increasingly recognised over recent years © Nadalina

Split-based Nadalina make high-quality raw chocolate bars with non-standard flavours like rosemary, figs and olive oil. They held the Guinness World Record for making the world’s largest chocolate bar and in 2017 were voted the world's third-best at the International Chocolate Awards. Vilma slastice from the island of Rab combine dark chocolate with flavours like Pag cheese, white truffles and lavender. Salt manufacturers Solana Nin have a salt-infused chocolate and Zagreb's Chozen make impossibly-pretty handmade Croatian chocolate pralines with a surprising and adventurous range of flavours. Besides these, the list of small manufacturers of Croatian chocolate grows every year. It seems that the love affair between Croats and their chocolate is far from finished, and that's certainly good news for Croatian exports.

109226832_275765863982594_3115906790936278049_o.jpgImpossibly pretty handmade chocolate truffles, produced in Zagreb by Chozen © Chozen

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Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Kras Confectionery Sees Higher H1 Profit Despite Drop in Revenues

ZAGREB, July 22, 2020 - Despite a drop in revenues due to the global coronavirus pandemic and economic lockdown, the Kras confectionery group generated a net profit of HRK 13.4 million in the first half of 2020, which is an increase of 15% on the same period of 2019.

Revenues reached HRK 453.1 million, down by 2.6% compared with the first half of last year, the company's financial statement showed on Wednesday.

Sales revenues fell by 6.6% to HRK 427.3 million, of which HRK 225.7 million was generated on the domestic market and HRK 201.6 million on the foreign markets.

Expenditures were nearly 3% lower than last year, totalling HRK 438 million.

The gross profit was HRK 15.1 million, or 8% more than at the same time last year, while the net profit reached HRK 13.4 million. 

(€1 = HRK 7.527586)

Saturday, 23 November 2019

MI Braća Pivac Buys Kraš ESOP Shares, Holds Controlling Stock

ZAGREB, November 23, 2019 - The Braća Pivac meat industry (Pivac Brothers Meat Industry) and the Kraš-ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) on Saturday concluded a sales agreement on the transfer of ESOP shares in the largest Croatian manufacturer of confectionery products to the Braća Pivac, the Zagreb-based Kraš stated today.

Under the agreement. MI Braća Pivac company purchased 276,441 ordinary shares, that is 18.44% interest, from Kraš small shareholder, at the price of 861.20 kuna per share or 238.1 million kuna for the whole transaction.

The price corresponds to the weighted average price of the Kraš share on the Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) in the last three months.

The deal was achieved after the Kraš ESOP held a general assembly on Saturday morning when it instructed the management on negotiations with potential buyers.

Apart from the agreement on the shares transaction, also an agreement on social partnership between the Braća Pivac company, Kraš workers and the trade union of workers in agricultural and food producing industries (PPDIV) was concluded defining the obligations of MI Braća Pivac for further investments in Kraš, protection of the rights of the Kraš employees and the maintenance of the existing production plants at the same locations.

MI Braća Pivac management board chair Ivica Pivac was quoted as saying that the group sees Kraš as one of the up-and-coming producing companies in Croatia and that the new owner would like to advance the production of this sweets manufacturer.

He said that he was glad that workers recognised the Pivac group as a steady partner for Kraš.

Today's acquisition makes the Pivac group one of the biggest food producing companies in southeast Europe and some 5,000 employees are on its payroll.

More news about Kraš can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Kraš-ESOP Assembly Votes against Deal with Braća Pivac

ZAGREB, September 30, 2019 - The assembly of Kraš-ESOP - the Employee Stock Ownership Plan at the Kraš confectioner - on Monday voted against an agreement for joint action with the Braća Pivac meat industry group, Zrinka Vrhovski of Kraš-ESOP said.

The decision was made following a debate and it was concluded that the reason to vote against the proposal for joint action with Braća Pivac was that Kraš-ESOP may not be able to ensure a sustainable financial scheme for the joint takeover of Kraš, Vrhovski said.

She noted that the only reason why the Employee Stock Ownership Plan was established was to preserve the right of workers to participate as shareholders in the confectioner's ownership structure.

That is a way of protecting jobs, non-tangible and other workers' rights. It promotes social dialogue within the company and motivates Kraš workers to achieve better results and to further develop the company, Kraš-ESOP said on Monday.

Following announcements of a possible takeover of Kraš, its shares were the most traded on the Zagreb Stock Exchange last week, closing at a price of 1,000 kuna per share, up 17.65%.

The company's shares have been in focus since September 9 when the largest shareholder, the Braća Pivac meat industry company, announced its intention to take over Kraš.

Last week the Kappa Star Limited, an investment company owned by Serbian businessman Nebojša Šaranović, continued increasing its stake in Kraš, passing the threshold of more than 16%.

More news about Kraš can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

KappaStar Continuing to Buy into Kraš Confectioner - Crosses 10% Threshold

ZAGREB, September 24, 2019 - The Cyprus-based KappaStar Group, an investment company owned by Serbian businessman Nebojša Saranović, is continuing to increase its stake in Croatia's Kraš confectioner, saying on Tuesday that it has passed the threshold of 10% and now owns 12.45% of Kraš shares.

KappaStar reported that it now holds 186,653 shares in Kraš or 12.455%.

KappaStar started buying into Kraš on 9 September when the largest individual shareholder in Kraš, the Braća Pivac meat industry, announced its intention to take over Kraš.

Since then Saranović's KappaStar Ltd has actually bought the most shares and last week it reported that it had acquired more than 5% of voting rights in Kraš and now it has crossed the 10% threshold.

Media, however, have reported that other investors appear to be interested in buying Kraš shares as well. Data provided by the Central Depository and Clearing Company (SKDD) on the top ten shareholders in Kraš show that there are two other custodial accounts at Zagrebačka Banka, one with 1.89% of Kraš shares and the other with 0.40% of shares.

Interest in Kraš shares became obvious two weeks ago when the Braća Pivac meat industry, which has a 30.73% stake in Kraš, announced that it would take over the confectioner.

On 9 September Braća Pivac announced its plan to take over Kraš' shares and said that it had opened negotiations with the Kraš-ESOP with the aim of jointly taking over Kraš.

Kraš is known for its Employee Stock Ownership Plan or Kraš ESOP, which holds 18.45% of the shares in the company. Kraš ESOP will decide on the joint acquisition with Braća Pivac at its general assembly on September 30.

More news about Kraš can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Croatian Products on the Shelf in "Orange is the New Black"

Total Croatia News has already written about the appearance of a Croatian island as an example of luxury and a privileged lifestyle in an American TV show. Now numerous Croatian products have been spotted in a different TV show, probably even more popular as it's final season has recently started streaming: Orange Is the New Black.

OK, fair enough, some of the people working for TCN maybe spend too much time watching Netflix. But, when you're watching the final episodes of one of your favourite TV shows of the recent past and something catches your eye in the background, you really need to pause, rewind 10 seconds just to make sure you're seeing it correctly. And I was. (For those not familiar with the show, it follows a group of women in an American federal prison, telling the story of their life in prison, but also the stories of how they ended up there. One of the characters, nicknamed Red, is a Russian lady who works on a Russian market in Queens, where the usual market stuff is happening along with organised crime)

It was Jadro Napolitanke that caught my attention first. Then it was Domaćica, and then I paused and tried to find as many familiar products as possible. And there are a lot, if you grew up in Croatia (or former Yugoslavia) you can probably count over a dozen familiar products on the shelf, including pickles, canned beef, some favourite sweets etc. The set designers for the show have worked hard to get their hands on numerous ex-Yu products (mostly Croatian, though) - hopefully, that's what they wanted their imaginary Russian market to have on its shelves. 

One thing has to be mentioned if we want to be fair: the products on the shelves are in their current, modern packaging. The scenes where they are visible take place in the past, before Red got into prison, probably sometime in the nineties. The designs of most of the products (and they all existed then!) were significantly different back then. Maybe that just goes to show that the contemporary product design of Croatian products is not really as contemporary as we'd like to think it is if it fits perfectly as a background in a scene taking place decades ago!

Which products can you see that aren't listed in the article?

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Clouds With Silver Linings: Success Stories of Most Powerful Croatian Brands

Just how did branding help some of the most powerful and recognisable Croatian labels develop cult-like status on the global market?

Friday, 25 May 2018

Kraš and Agrokor Reject Claims of Favouritism

ZAGREB, May 25, 2018 - The Kraš confectionery company and ailing Agrokor food and retail conglomerate on Friday refuted claims that in the process of categorisation of claims by Agrokor's emergency administrator, Kraš's procurator Marica Vidaković had managed to negotiate a more favourable status for Kraš and some other companies.

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