The EBRD's Business Advisory Services (BAS) is helping a Bosnian wood processing company expand.
Fadil Costovic has been in wood processing his entire life. As a child he spent endless hours in his grandfather's workshop observing and learning the craft of furniture making.
Fast-forward to 2007 and Mr Costovic has set up Artisan, a wood processing company producing wooden elements for interiors – from flooring and wall panels to desks, tables, chairs and kitchens.
Finished products account for 40% of the revenue while the rest comes from manufacturing semi-finished elements for further processing, along with services for other small wood processors. Raw material is mostly high quality wood from local trees such as walnut, chestnut and cherry.
But with only two collections of his own design, Mr Costovic saw that if he wanted to expand his company he needed to improve product design. So he sought help from the Business Advisory Services (BAS) Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2009, the EU-funded BAS put forward €10,200 to hire a renowned local designer, Salih Teskeredzic, and to cover costs of the project. Working with the company specialists, Mr Teskeredzic created ‘Collection 2010’ which featured over 20 items such as solid wood furniture for homes and restaurants.
These new products were presented at the IMM Furniture Fair in Germany in January 2010. There, Artisan was awarded the prestigious Interior Innovation Award for its Latus chairs and tables. It was the first time that the most coveted prize by interior designers and furniture manufacturers was awarded to Bosnian products that were locally designed, locally produced and made from local materials.
Artisan’s presence and success at the Fair led to a number of orders and the products are now sold in 35 furniture stores all over Europe. Overall sales have increased by 45 per cent. Production capacity has doubled and about 70 per cent of production is now exported to Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Negotiations are under way for export to Austria and the United Kingdom.
Artisan’s growth is unstoppable. Mr Costovic has ambitious expansion plans. A new machine has been purchased and an additional production facility was built in 2010. Product development foresees the introduction of steam-shaping technologies for wood processing and moving the factory onto newly purchased land.
"My company is the proof that a well thought private business can flourish despite the state's lack of support or the economic and political difficulties in the country,” states Mr Costovic proudly. “I want to prove that in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we can produce as high quality furniture as anywhere in the world".