Klaudio Grginić found himself in the Croatian yacht business by accident, and employs some twenty people today. In addition to production, which takes place far from the coast in Zagreb, his company also has a charter fleet down in Dalmatia, in Biograd.
As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes on the 12th of September, 2019, the fact that the Republic of Croatia boasts the largest charter fleet in the world has been widely known for several years. Although it is generally believed that these ships, be they motor boats, yachts or other types of sailboats, are of foreign origin, the reality is that a good part of them are made right here in Croatia.
One of the most popular yachts which is nine metres long and sails on the Adriatic is the Mirakul 30, which did not come from some “fashionable” shipyard in Italy, France or Germany, but is being manufactured at the foot of Sljeme in Zagreb’s Markuševec, far from the sea.
Grginić Yachts is a family-owned company run by Klaudio Grginić today, and they have been operating yachts since back in 2004.
“We found ourselves in this business quite by accident. My grandfather opened a mechanical locksmith business back in the 1960s and his father expanded it with the production of funeral equipment. In early 2000, I decided to build two yachts with a friend, each with their own arrangement.
But at one point, my friend gave up and I then found myself in a dilemma of what to do now because I didn’t really have much knowledge about these vessels, especially not about their construction. The luck of the accident was that at that time, a company that was engaged in the construction of boats failed in Zabok, and we hired several key people who had worked there and who also lived in our neighbourhood,” recalls Grginić.
He adds, with a laugh, that although he didn’t know it at the time, he later realised that one of the most famous global yacht factories, the Italian Ferretti, was created in the same way as Grginić Yachts, and that it somehow seemed that the funeral business had some sort of expansion into yacht building.
After developing the business a little bit, the economic crisis of 2009 hit the Croatian economy hard, which shook the company and it was only saved, rather morbidly perhaps, by the segment of the constant production of funeral equipment. But it was also an opportunity to turn more heavily to exports, and through specialised fairs, this Croatian yacht company managed to successfully reach new customers in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, and today, the Croatian-built Mirakul yachts sail the seas, rivers and lakes in those countries.
Today, the Grginić Group employs about twenty people, and for the needs of the showroom, a charter fleet was founded and is based in Biograd (Zadar) today, which boasts seven vessels from its own production. So far, more than 100 Croatian Mirakul 30 vessels have been delivered to the market, and since 2015, the production of both the larger and more luxurious Mirakul 40, which is 12 metres in length, has started.
Although it is thought that yachts are only for the world’s wealthy elite, the fact that the new Mirakul 30 (which can accommodate 6-8 people) can be bought for less than 100 thousand euros, shows that the market is much wider than we tend to realise or accept. The more luxurious Mirakul 40 costs 250,000 euros or more, however.
Noting that it is a little strange that ships of this size are produced in continental Croatian territory, instead of somewhere along the coast, Grginić points out that out of about 70 small shipping companies operating in Croatia, fifty are located in Zagreb or within the Croatian capital’s immediate area, and only about twenty are actually situated along the coast.
“We don’t really have any competition because each of us is specialised in a niche of this business. Foreign manufacturers are also not our competitors, because their prices are much higher. Many end up in our Adriatic as well,” said the owner of the Markuševec-based yacht company.
The lack of marinas and berths is a major obstacle to the stronger development of Croatian small shipbuilding.
“Many people, especially foreigners, would like to buy a boat here, especially a new Croatian one, but they don’t bother with it all because they simply have no place to put it, and on average, they can only use it for sailing for up to several weeks a year,” warned Grginić.