Miroslav Miletić: Successful changes of the successful

In the development of “Bambi” we had a turning point: many things were to be changed in a successful company such as ours but at first sight it was not to be seen that anything had changed in it

In some earlier years I had considered a five percent growth a great achievement. But if we realized 17 instead of the projected 12 percent growth last year, in 2006, then we fairly easily accept that our annual growth should be even 25 percent. At the end of 2008. output growth of Bambi- Banat Company will be twice the one before the merger. Thus, we are talking about the sale of 35,000 tons of products and of a more than 100 million euro revenue. We are already preparing the strategy for 2008.-2010…”

That is how Miroslav Miletić, general manager of Bambi-Banat Company, outlined the development trend of the company at the head of which he is, in the interview for Magazin Biznis. The plan of the new company BAMBI-BANAT is to produce 28,000 tons of confectionery products and 72.4 million euro revenue in 2007. General manager Miroslav Miletić has been working at the “Bambi” Concern in Požarevac for over 20 years. He was elected general manager for the first time in 1996, and reelected in 2001, 2004, and finally 2006 for the period until 2009.

What have the cooperation with Danube Foods Group two years ago and the recent merger with Banat in Vršac brought you?

– In the development of “Bambi” we had come to a turning point: many things were to be changed in a successful company such as ours but at first sight it was not to be seen that anything had changed in it. We were fortunate to make the decision on time, because we needed this sort of support within the Danube Foods Group, as an amount of security. And as far as “Banat” is concerned, each of the production programmes will be defined. There will be a mutual synergy wherever possible: chocolate biscuits, a more modern taste, new chocolate recipes. But our overall mission is to maintain the great heritage of our tradition and the already created brands. The concept of out product range is certainly- healthy foods.

“Plazma” biscuit is by all means “Bambi”’s most well known brand. Or, as the experts say “goods are sold in large amounts, but only brands survive”. How do you interpret the duration of “plazma” brand?

– “Bambi” observes the tradition in its business philosophy. “Bambi” seems like a stereotype story- there is no recipe for success, there is no proprietary recipe that turns into big profits. But “plazma” was the beginning of the production of something that is specific. It is our luck, and those who are brave are lucky as well. We perceive it as the skill of carefully chosen steps which filled the gap that existed in the 60s in the production of the food that was then considered synonymous with healthy food. That is what is today called organic food in the world. That is the fortune and skill of the people who created “Bambi” company. Perhaps the creators of “plazma”, who were undoubtedly talented for business, with a certain amount of risk, were not aware in those years that they had created a big brand. Afterwards you can even change the packaging, but you must not trick the consumer or exchange the raw material and make a bad substitute.

How risky are then the changes of, for example, the packaging that you introduced last year for “plazma”?

– Now we are being led by the experienced world consultants and have a good example of branding in practice. Until the middle of last year we were big traditionalists. We decided on the change of packaging with difficulty, but it is a fact that those who advised changes were not to be too radical. “Bambi” is a healthy foods producer, primarily of children’s food, and through them the food comes to all the other target groups.

The data that in the first two months of this year you increased the sales of “plazma” for as much as 70 percent compared to the same months last year is virtually incredible.

– Yes. In the two months of this year sales rose by 70 percent, although at the beginning of last year as well we had a high rate of 17 percent compared to the year before. Around 900 tons of “plazma” was sold in the first two months of 2006, and this year it is 1,500 tons. We were developing our business strategy with the McKinsey consulting firm. The aims of that strategy are that in the domestic market, in the sale of biscuits, snacks and waffles we occupy over 50 percent of the market in the coming period, and to occupy a third of the market together with chocolates. We already started the growth last year with a better distribution, the “mini plazma” sales, redesign of “plazma”. We have made an excellent marketing, but had more careful estimated on how “mini plazma” would start. It proved to be a good union of economic measures and marketing activities. Today our production functions much more rationally than before. “Bambi” has 1,330 employees, around a hundred temporary workers and a constant three-shift work.

M. B.
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