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News 23 Jun 17

Agrokor Boss Vows to Tackle Problems in Bosnia

Ante Ramljak says future focus will now be on stabilising operations in Bosnia, where Agrokor’s daughter companies reportedly owe suppliers over 100 million euros.

BIRN
Sarajevo
Agrokor's extraordinary manager, Ante Ramljak. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Lana SLIVAR DOMINIC/MO

The extraordinary manager of Croatia’s ailing food and retail concern, Agrokor, on Friday said he would now be shifting the focus to Bosnia, where the firm is battling to stabilising operations.

Agrokor’s units in Bosnia and Herzegovina are experiencing difficulties with their suppliers, Ante Ramljak said, following a third meeting in Sarajevo with the Bosnian authorities.

The half-empty shelves of its retail arm, Konzum, earlier this year were the first sign that Agrokor was struggling in the country.

Late in May, Ramljak said that, to counter the problem, Agrokor would be reintroducing Mercator from Slovenia, which he said had demonstrated greater success in Bosnia.

Mercator’s reintroduction to the market in Bosnia is supposed to improve Agrokor's positioning there, while allowing room for long-term development.

On Friday in Sarajevo, Ramljak said the reintroduction would be conducted in phases.

“The concept of rebranding Konzum into Mercator is very complex and we are doing it in phases. At present, our teams in Konzum and Mercator, with the aid of external consultants, are evaluating and identifying steps that need to be taken,” he stated.

The manager noted that he would be spending more time in Bosnia, but urged the authorities and suppliers there to keep their cool and cooperate, adding that a solution was on the horizon.

“The situation is not critical; we are not talking about laying off a large number of people,” he said. “Cooperation is extremely important.”

Denis Zvizdic, the Chairman of Bosnia's Council of Ministers, who attended the meeting, commended Ramljak for taking a professional approach to the problem in Bosnia.

He said Bosnia’s authorities wanted the Agrokor issue properly addressed due to the company’s significance for the country’s economy.

Agrokor employs more than 5,000 people in Bosnia in eight daughter companies.

Most of the workforce is employed by Konzum which, since it entered the Bosnian market in 2014, after Agrokor’s takeover of Mercator, has not shown the expected results.

In April, Bosnia's Foreign Trade Minister, Mirko Sarovic, said Agrokor’s daughter companies owed local suppliers over 100 million euros.

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