Agrokor and Ardo Ally in Croatia to Boost Vinka Output
The Croatian Agrokor Group and the Belgian Ardo Group have sealed a deal for mutual cooperation by inking a joint venture contract at the Vinka fruit and vegetable processing plant in Vinkovci. The agreement was signed on June 8 by Ivica Todorić, president of Agrokor, and Bernard Haspeslagh, Ardo's chief operations officer.
Through the signing of the contract, which is worth €50 million, both parties are now equal owners of the Vinka d.d. company. The joint venture will result in Vinka becoming a leading manufacturing plant of frozen fruits and vegetables in Eastern Europe. This will be achieved through dedicated investment and the consolidation of agricultural, industrial and market knowledge of both groups, creating advantageous economies of scale. With significant funding to increase the production capacity, volume is expected to quadruple in the near future.
For Ardo, the deal represents a further development of its expanding business in Central and Eastern Europe. Vinka will be part of Ardo's industrial network, ensuring a firm manufacturing base with a strong and reputable local partner.
On the occasion of the signing of the contract, COO Haspeslagh commented: "Thanks to this joint venture we are realizing a long-term partnership within which we can exchange and develop knowledge in the production and processing of frozen fruits and vegetables in a growing market. Agrokor's agricultural potential combined with Ardo's industrial knowledge will create a leading production platform in Eastern Europe. We strongly believe in the agricultural potential of the Danube Valley. The combination of production from both the Vinka facility and Ardo's existing Austrian plant in this fertile valley will create a complementary product range for the Eastern Europe market."
President Todorić remarked: "Agrokor has so far invested nearly €25 million in Vinka to financially and operationally improve the company. We have chosen Ardo as a strategic partner to increase current production volumes from 15,000 tons to 60,000 tons, which will create over 100 new jobs."
Pointing out that the boost in output will result in the export of Croatian products to more than 60 different markets worldwide where Ardo is present, Todorić added: "This is a great opportunity for our domestic production and for our sub-contractors, enabling them to enter new markets. Thanks to these investments, the current number of cooperation partners will grow from 80 to over 300 sub-contractors."
The joint venture alliance was also praised by the Commissioner of Vukovar-Srijem County, Božo Galić, who said: "Vinka has been government-owned for a long time. After several failed business initiatives of different companies, Agrokor managed in a short period to revive the company through significant investment, resulting in big potential for our county. I am glad that this potential was also identified by the Belgian Ardo Group as a foreign investor, and I am sure that the signing will be a milestone in the development and the operations of the Vinka plant. At the same time this investment will open new opportunities for our farmers, boosting all other economical activities, which will also increase the total employment in our county.''
Among those witnessing a special ceremony to mark the event were Domagoj Franić, director of Vinka; Vladimir Džaja, director of PIK Vinkovci; Mladen Karlić, mayor of Vinkovci; as well as many of Vinka's agricultural sub-contractors and numerous other guests.
More about Agrokor
The Agrokor Group is the largest privately-held company in Southeast Europe with almost 60,000 employees and reported consolidated revenues of approximately €7 billion. Its core businesses are engaged in the production and distribution of food and beverages through retail channels. Corporate members include Jamnica d.d., Croatia's largest producer of mineral water; Ledo d.d., the nation's leading ice cream manufacturer; Zvijezda d.d., the biggest domestic producer of oil, margarine and mayonnaise; PIK Vrbovec d.d., the largest Croatian meat processor; Belje, the country's foremost industrial agriculture company; and the retail chains Konzum d.d. and Poslovni sistemi Mercator d.d. In addition, in recent years Agrokor has acquired companies based in several neighboring countries, including Ledo Čitluk, Sarajevski kiseljak, Velpro Sarajevo, Frikom, Dijamant, Idea, Mercator, Ledo Hungary and Fonyodi.
The leading positions of Agrokor's companies are reflected in their market shares. Ledo dominates Croatia’s ice cream market. Zvijezda commands the biggest share of the margarine and edible oils market, while Jamnica ranks first in the bottled water sector. Konzum is Croatia’s biggest retail chain and PIK Vrbovec is the leading meat company in the region.
Operating the only factory freezing fruits and vegetables in Croatia, Vinka sources raw material from local suppliers. Geographically, it is positioned in the center of rich agricultural land which yields a significant competitive advantage in the production and processing of fruits and vegetables.
With turnover of € 841 million in 2015 and 3,800 employees on the payroll, the family-owned Ardo Group is the European leader in the production of a full range of fresh-frozen vegetables, herbs and fruit for retail, foodservice and industrial clients. The Ardooie, Belgium-headquartered company has 20 production, distribution and packing units in eight European countries, ensuring optimal sourcing from the most productive growing regions on the continent. Last year the Group marketed 762,000 tons of fresh-frozen vegetables, herbs, fruit, pasta, potato products and rice worldwide.
Ardo controls the entire production chain, from the selection of seed to packing and distribution. The company's expertise in raw materials procurement and processing, as well as its flexible structure, enable the ongoing development of new products that meet market needs and trends.