EBRD helps organic food company in Croatia expand

Croatian Biovega expands

EBRD advice has helped entrepreneurs in Zagreb, Croatia expand their organic produce company. Biovega has grown to become a "lifestyle" brand with a wide product range.

Building up the business

Starting a business in the war-torn former Yugoslavia requires real vision. But in the early 1990’s a husband and wife achieved just that when they set up organic food company Biovega. Their enterprise has gone from strength to strength.

In 1991 the couple opened a restaurant in Zagreb, using organic ingredients only. They then began to import and distribute organic food and opened their first shop in Zagreb in 1994.

Fifteen years later, Biovega provides a complete range of organic produce from food and food supplements to household products and natural cosmetics. It is very much a “lifestyle” brand, including retail shops, organic restaurants, bookshops and beauty centres.

Asking the EBRD for help

Despite the company’s success, Jadranka Boban Pejić, Biovega's general manager, admits that her company’s rapid growth is not easy to handle. The first years were driven by passion, not knowledge.

In 2006 the company contacted the EBRD’s Business Advisory Service (BAS). This helped Biovega to undertake a comprehensive review of the franchising business and identify items with the highest revenue.

With the help of a BAS expert in merchandise and consumer behaviour, Biovega also developed a large-scale consumer survey to learn more about its customers. The results enabled Biovega to understand the market and adapt to its customers' needs. Sales increased by 50 per cent in just one month.

A bright future

The company is now looking to enlarge two stores, one in Split, Croatia's second-largest city, and another in Zagreb. There are plans for an even bigger store in the tourist city of Dubrovnik. By 2010 Biovega plans to count around 12 stores throughout Croatia.