As Jutarnji/Novac writes, the Varazdin Ekos holding, one of the most stable Croatian companies, is now under new management. The founder and man who brought Ekos Holding to the wholesale confectionery throne, Hrvoje Vojvoda, once the mayor of Varazdin, has been replaced by his son Josip, and the biggest changes they faced took place in Ekos pekarnica, the most important daughter company of Ekos, holding a 75 percent share in their revenue.
Last year ended with 100.2 million kuna in revenue, the year before with 80 million kuna, and the Varazdin Ekos Holding company is growing year by year.
Josip Vojvoda has always surrounded himself with women in business. Much like his father, the other bosses who had been building the company since 1990 have now also retired. The new president had to elect some new people. He appointed only four women to the management of the Ekos bakery, all of them under the age of 40, and Josip is convinced that these new bosses are the best for a new, more modern Ekos Holding.
Ekos recently embarked on a major challenge, the construction of a modern plant in the neighbouring county of Medjimurje.
”Six thousand tonnes of cakes come out of Ekos every year, and with this new plant, that number will be three times higher. From back in 2012 until today, the company has been growing steadily, the confectionery part is our core business and we can all be happy here that we’re engaged in this business. Confectionery is the pinnacle of every food industry and always brings something new with it, it also brings what is old is back into fashion, but in some sort of new version. We’ve shown ourselves good in overcoming new challenges,” stated Josip Vojvoda.
He is young, just 38 years old, is married to wife Zeljka, who is also employed by Ekos, and has two daughters, Eva (10) and Vita (2). He has a degree in economics and grew up within the Varazdin Ekos Holding company’s realm. At one point, he and a friend, whose father is a business partner and co-owner of Ekos Holding, decided to start their own business. They founded the company Agrofood and were engaged in the sale of fruits and vegetables from local farms. They did well and when the company established itself on the market, the “renegade” sons sold the company to Ekos Holding.
The Varazdin Ekos Holding company is also specific in many other ways. The company is constantly growing, their revenues are high and stable, and the company has been at the same address since its founding way back in 1990. In an old, but renovated beautiful Art Nouveau one-story house, sandwiched between two similar ones in the city centre. There is a bread production plant in the yard. It’s like it’s a small manufactory, not a million-dollar company. But it is precisely this unpretentious charm that distinguishes Ekos from many other companies of that same rank. Although a well-known European player in the field of confectionery, Ekos is still like a family confectionery in its hometown of Varazdin.
The state has forgotten about them…
”We collaborated a lot with Robert Hromalic, bought recipes from him and he educated our pastry chefs with some new recipes. Otherwise, we just work on continuous education. A few weeks ago, six of our pastry chefs were in training at the famous Richmond confectionery school in Lucerne. The global trend in confectionery is the vegan, gluten-free and premium segment, where ingredients must be from proven sources. We definitely stand out from the competition there, each of our cakes has an RSPO biocertificate, which means that children aren’t abused in the growing of the cocoa,” said Vojvoda.
The state has forgotten them in everything related to EU funds, and as an industry, the Varazdin Ekos Holding company cannot withdraw even one single euro because it does not belong to anyone.
”The sector of nakery and confectionery, obviously, isn’t particularly interesting to anyone. We’re proverbial orphans. On the other hand, we marvel at imported, cheap products made with European money. Here in Croatia, when they wrote out all of the aid programmes, they left our industry out totally. We applied to the Ministry of Agriculture, but we had to prove that the cake is a product made from fruits and vegetables, which we failed to do. I’d need to bite my tongue hundreds of times when I’d see that we have such a quality product that is increasingly being exported, and the Ministry hasn’t even got as much as a listening ear for us,” he said.
Since they could not get an incentive, they’ve been financing the investment themselves, and partly had to borrow.
Recently, the directors of all major companies in the industry – Ekos, Team Zip, Cakovec Mills, Dubravica and others – went together to the Ministry of Agriculture, only to find out that when the programmes were written, the bakery and confectionery industry wasn’t included in them.
“We’re not even in the new envelope for the next ten years. They said they were sorry about that,” concluded Josip Vojvoda.
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