Croatian Products: Leading Candle Producer Exports to European Market

Lauren Simmonds

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Croatian products are known for their high quality, and the jump from market stand to the leaders of the market is a praiseworthy one.

As Vedran Balen/VL/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of October, 2018, as many as seven thousand pallets with more than six million lamps and candles are produced each year by this Croatian company. 

The products find themselves on both the domestic and foreign markets and originate from from the small settlement of Zadubravlje near Slavonski Brod, and the company in question, Primax, has been the leading manufacturer of these products in Croatia for a great many years.

On the eve of the All Saints’ Day, the company has their hands very much full, as one can easily imagine. The company’s co-owner and director Robert Pandža stated that although he doesn’t know for sure whether or not his company is the first in Croatia, he knows it works extremely hard. He added that every European region has its own idea of ​​how such candles and lamps should look, and they therefore try to satisfy and adapt to the often varying needs of a large market.

The Slavonski Brod native started work in this field way back in 1994, when just he and his wife ran the business. They started out with very humble beginnings, more specifically with a small stall on the market, eventually establishing a different development phase and managing to successfully adapt these Croatian products to the often ever-changing and demanding market conditions.

They started to import cosmetics and supply perfumeries and similar types of stores, of which there were a great many in Croatia at that time. They started to work on plastic sheeting, and then continued to expand yet further upon seeing that such a move had been very well received and was doing well. After numerous business ventures, they eventually decided to focus exclusively on production.

Today, Primax does exceptionally well and has some fifty employees who work in three shifts, their own production and storage area covers a handsome ​​2,000 square metres. During the course of a quarter of a century of their existence, the company has even changed its location on seven different occasions, mainly when they were more engaged in commercial activities as opposed to production. Years of work and valuable experience made them realise that they needed some serious production capacity, and a very serious approach to such a business. Thus, five years ago, they invested 14 million kuna of their own funds in the construction and the proper equipping of a new production hall in the village of Zadubravlje. After that, the production was all set up and ready for business, quite literally.

“It’s not easy to produce six million pieces. To increase production again, we’ll need to invest a lot again because candles require a large storage space. In this business, the biggest percentage of sales takes place within a month or two before All Saints Day, but production is already going on in February. The rotation cycle is similar to that of agriculture,” explained Pandža.

As they purchased land one year earlier, their application for a subsidy was denied on the grounds that they had already started investing. Namely, only those who hadn’t actually invested at the time could be nominated for the tender, so they remained without support. The only incentives they received were 300,000 kuna from European funds for the introduction of new software, 250,000 kuna from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts for the improvement of production, and 100,000 kuna from Brod-Poavina County for the purchase of new machines.

“In Croatia, the main problem is the relationship with entrepreneurship. If we managed to get forty percent of that multi-million investment, we’d have yet another new line and a better position on the market today, and the workers would be more satisfied and they’d also be better paid. Otherwise, the general trend is a positive one and the situation is much better today than it was a few years ago.We’re just not satisfied with the outcome,” Pandža stated.

In addition to candles and lamps, they also produce PE foil from recycled or original material and packaging, and their annual turnover stands at around thirty million kuna. Their EBITDA ranges from 1.3 to 1.5 million kuna, while pure profit is about 300,000 kuna. About 35 percent of the company’s production is exported to the European market, including France, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and Finland, with a tendency for further growth.

Ultimately, exports should grow to more than fifty percent.

Want to keep up with what’s going on in the world of business in Croatia? Follow our business page and our Made in Croatia page for news on Croatia’s many successful companies, products, and entrepreneurs.


Click here for the original article by Vedran Balen/VL on Poslovni Dnevnik


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