Bipa Croatia Plans Further Expansion Before End of 2020

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 16th of November, 2020, Tina Jurjevic, operative director of Bipa Croatia, talked to Poslovni dnevnik about Bipa Croatia’s business results, the state of the drugstore market and the further expansion of the company’s sales network. She also revealed what their plans are for the period until the end of this year and what key changes have taken place on the Croatian market since Bipa has been operating here.

Tina Jurjevic has been a member of the Bipa Croatia team since back in 2010, she spent nine years as the head of the human resources department and almost two years as the head of the sales department, and a few months ago she took over the position of operational director for the entire company.

What kind of business results marked last year, and how has the business of drugstores done in 2020?

Last year was extremely successful for Bipa Croatia in terms of positive business, significant growth in turnover and an increasing market share, through the opening of as many as 17 new stores and refurbishment of 12 of them and the employment of more than 120 employees more than in 2018.

This year started off well, in the first three months of 2020 we recorded double-digit growth in traffic when compared to 2019. However, with the appearance of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown in the spring we had to adapt to new circumstances and focus on increasing traffic through changing marketing approach and promotional activities.

We stopped distributing leaflets and focused on digital communication and television, and in approaching customers we put more emphasis on health and the household, and less on products from the beauty segment. Through the optimisation of costs and working hours (which wasn’t a positive measure at first), we managed to provide jobs to our employees and we’re extremely proud to have avoided mass layoffs, and through agreement with external partners we’ve reduced some costs.

We also worked a lot on building trust through strict adherence to epidemiological measures, which we insisted on, and this approach proved to be the best for preserving the health of our customers and employees. We’re extremely pleased with the results – In the first six months of 2020, none of our employees were infected with coronavirus, and so far only two employees in the stores have fallen ill, and fortunately only with mild symptoms. What I can sum up as a conclusion is that, although the summer season paled in comparison to that of 2019, we achieved results above our expectations and recorded a 1.2 percent increase in market share. We plan to continue along this path.

What is the state of the drugstore market after the temporary ”closures” of spring? Where do you see room for improvement?

The biggest change we could summarise is that customers come less often, but they do buy more, and their preferences have also changed – health, the household and family care has become first on their list of priorities. In top of that, they’re less motivated to do their shopping in more places, meaning that one-stop shopping has become an important element of the strategy towards the customer. It’s here that we can see the greatest room for improvement – to offer customers everything they need in one place.

Can you make a comparison of the market from back when Bipa Croatia just started doing business and the situation of today, what were the key changes?

From a small drugstore on the market, Bipa has become a drugstore that everyone knows about. Both back at the beginning and now, we’re known for great actions, and we’re increasingly recognisable as an association with fashion and beauty. Year after year, step by step, we’ve grown into a serious company that wants to continue to support women (as our main target group) in every new role in life.

One of the main changes is that customers have recognised drugstores as a place where they’re able to buy much more than just perfumes and cosmetics. This trend of ”switching’’ from food chains is something that makes us happy but not surprising, because we’ve made a targeted effort to make part of the drugstore assortment more interesting when compared to classic chains. The shopping experience is something that is at a high level in our country, and this especially applies to our employees and the very arrangement of points of sale.

How many employees do you have today and in how many branches? Do you plan to further expand your sales network?

At the moment we have 763 employees and 122 branches, and by the end of the year we plan to open six more. Bipa Croatia’s plans for next year include opening ten new branches and increasing our number of employees by about ten percent, thus continuing to be available to our customers and provide them with a wide range of products from our offer, from hygiene supplies to cosmetics.

What are your expectations and plans for the period until the end of the year, do you have any projects, openings, novelties in the works?

We’re not just going to sit back, we’re planning further business expansion by the end of the year and one interesting benefit for our customers, which we will realise as a surprise in November. For December, as a month dominated by the Christmas holidays, gatherings and family dedications, we want to help our customers express care for their loved ones through a series of promotions and benefits. In general, we intend to end the year in a positive atmosphere, both in the context of revenues and in thanking and supporting our employees for all the efforts and challenges they faced throughout the year we’re about to leave behind.

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