The Slovenia Times

Adria Mobil: Shaping the colours of the Adriatic



Anybody who ever walked through a campsite on the Adriatic coast in the 1980's must have noticed the vast number of Adria Mobil's distinctive blue and white caravans that dominated the shady terraces overlooking the sea. This was a golden era for the company, which profited from the demand for its caravans created by government-owned companies offering subsidized vacations for their employees. However, things soon started to go wrong as firstly a recession in Western Europe, then the Balkans wars and social changes in Slovenia brought about a substantial and rapid decline in the caravan market. This reached its lowest ebb in 1995, when Adria sold only 3,305 units, nearly 23,000 units less than its peak sales year in 1980. Since then, a new management team led by Mrs Sonja Gole has revitalized the caravan programme and tackled the new motorhome and camper van markets with vigour. Today, the company enjoys 6.5 per cent of the European market, is the 6th largest company in the industry and, more importantly, has been the fastest growing since 1996. Last year Adria sold more than 13,000 of its vehicles in 26 markets and increased their turnover to in excess of EUR 200 m and in the process generated profits of EUR 10 m, a massive 31.5 per cent increase from the previous year. Currently, almost all of its sales are made in Western European markets, but this is changing and the company is slowly expanding its distribution globally. It recently sold its first units in Japan and Australia. Although the company has invested a lot of time and effort into the construction of the new production facility and the subsequent relocation, its production and sales figures for the first half of 2005 are as projected - 10 per cent higher than for the same period last year. Motorhomes driving the company forward Although Adria has steadily increased sales across the board since 1995, motorhome and camper van sales have increased sharply and now account for almost half of the company's total sales. The motorhome programme includes 26 models of mansard and half-integrated vehicles built on Fiat, Mercedes and Renault chassis. The flagship motorhome is Vision, a cutting-edge product resulting from decades of research and development by the company. Vision will be launched on the market in March 2006. In the camper van category, Adria is one of the leading producers in Europe with 10 different designs built around Fiat Ducato, Renault Master and Traffic chassis. The most interesting product is probably 3way, the youngest and smallest of the product range. This market will probably become the industry's most lucrative in the future as the demand is now for vehicles that are comfortable, easier to manage than caravans and less cumbersome than motorhomes in the hustle and bustle of urban areas. Moreover, the company remains very active in the caravan market and still produces 63 different versions based around 5 main models. These days, the management is staking their fortunes on Action, a ninth generation caravan, which is a small and practical unit with an attractive design. Three other versions of mobile home units are also being produced. The production facility The new plant is located in Novo mesto, the capital of Dolenjska region, which has become the tiger of the Slovenian economy with a number of successful globally-oriented firms such as Krka, Revoz, Trimo and Danfoss now based there. Adria's new EUR 35 m facility, which is more than the estimated cost of the elusive national football stadium, was built in just 17 months by Begrad, a local construction firm. The 150,000-m² site houses a 40,000-m² production plant and a 4,000-m² administration block. The rest of the site has been turned over to parking areas intended, in the main, for the finished product. The new plant has capacity to turn out 17,000 units per year, 30 per cent more than the old factory located next to the Renault plant in Novo mesto. The most technologically sophisticated and expensive part of the new investment is the production facility for automotive and caravan bodies, which has 7 assembly lines - 3 for caravans, 3 for motorhomes and camper vans and one mixed. Leisure time partner The company's ambitious growth strategy does not stop there. They recently took the decision to slowly move away from their basic programme of caravans and motorhomes and branch into the production of leisure and travel equipment. The Adria Mobil group, which includes 9 subsidiaries - ranging from boat-building to tourism services, plans to implement this strategy by expanding both their production activities and their international sales network through a network of sales and service agents as well as tourist agencies. The group has already begun to expand into the global arena and has now penetrated 26 markets on 3 continents and has a total workforce exceeding 1200 employees - 770 based in Novo mesto. Since 2004, Adria Mobil has also had a strategic partner in Autocommerce, a Slovenian company that owns and manages 38 companies in industries as diverse as the vehicle trade, investment banking, business hospitality (GH Union and Lev hotels in Ljubljana), information technology and manufacturing. It is led by Herman Rigelnik, who recently acquired a controlling interest in the investment firm during a management buyout staged in cooperation with his top managers. Fly, drive and sail with Adria? Good management, healthy growth since 1996, a strategic partner, a new factory, fresh products and a positive response at recent trade fairs are all signs that Adria Mobil has the potential to reach its goals of becoming one of the leading European manufactures of leisure and travel products. With tourism on the rise, improved stability in the region and a partner that has important regional ambitions, Adria Mobil's management team is looking forward to the challenge of exploiting the synergy between their products and their tourism services. After all, wouldn't a young couple or a family from London appreciate the opportunity of flying into Ljubljana, picking up an camper van or motorhome at the airport, driving leisurely down the coast to Split, renting a boat and then flying home from wherever? In any case, it seems certain that Adria Mobil's products will shape the colours of the Adriatic for years to come.


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