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Recovering dairy treasures

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“In 2015 we were almost bankrupt,” reveals General Manager Robert Serec, who joined the company at that time to lead a financial and business restructure, which has turned Pomurske mlekarne into one of the most profitable dairies in Slovenia. “We have implemented a very clear strategy. In 2015 the focus was on survival, 2016 was about stabilization, and in 2017 we are preparing for growth. We turned a 6.4 million EUR loss in 2014 into a 1.5 million EUR profit in 2015 and completed all our compulsory settlements within nine months. One key factor was to reduce our portfolio to those products which were profitable. We cut down on fresh products and focused on those with a longer shelf life.”

Today, Pomurske mlekarne’s core business is in UHT milk. It also supplies butter, quark and two types of cheese: Emmental and Tilsiter.

“We are number one in Slovenia for butter production,” Mr. Serec points out. “We supply 60% of the butter which is sold here, and we are known as one of the best producers of butter in the former Yugoslavia. We are also renowned for our traditional quark, for which we have 40% of the national market share.”

With a focus on both quality and price, all of the dairy’s produce is made in-house. “We offer extremely good quality at top prices,” continues the General Manager. “We have some special recipes, for example for ripening, so that our products have a fuller aroma and taste better. Our goods are all natural and pure. We don’t use artificial additives. Our quark and cheeses are still handmade. At the same time, we aim to continually drive down costs and our use of energy so that we can offer the best price-performance ratio on the market.”

Pomurske mlekarne supplies both large and small supermarkets in Slovenia, as well as schools and hospitals. “We pass the audits of the big names with great results,” notes Mr. Serec.

The company is relatively small and therefore does not compete in the vast European market, instead concentrating on Bosnia and Macedonia, as well as Africa, Libya and Macau, and has recently taken its first steps in China and Vietnam.

By the end of 2017, the restructure of the company will be complete, and it will be strongly positioned for further growth. “I believe we can increase our milk sales from 60 million liters today to 100 million liters per year. We will also continue to improve efficiency, and I predict we can reduce costs by a further 30%,” Mr. Serec summarizes.

One thing is certain: ‘Nature’s white treasures,’ as the company slogan says, seem set to continue their remarkable comeback.

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