The Slovenia Times

Publisher Mladinska getting back on track


The proceeds will enable the publisher to meet obligations under the deleveraging agreement with the creditor banks three years before the deadline, chairman Peter Tomšič has told the STA.

Mladinska knjiga založba (MKZ), the core company of the group that also comprises a retail arm and subsidiaries in the former Yugoslavia, has been transferred to the Bank Asset Management Company after its sale to low-cost publisher Učila International by banks Abanka and NLB fell through.

By offloading the logistics arm, the publisher has consolidated its portfolio of operations with Tomšič saying that no publisher in Europe or in the world has distribution organised in that way.

Mladinska was virtually forced into such a model due to the absence of such services in the past, and later offered unutilised services on the market; in the end the logistics arm provided less than 40% of its services to Mladinska.

The company "inherited" a debt of EUR 25m from the time it was in majority ownership of the Maribor Church holding Zvon Dva, which in the meantime ended up in receivership.

Tomšič says they have managed to pay off about ten million from current operations, so the purchase money will now enable them to meet contractual obligations to the creditors three years earlier than planned.

Despite the challenging situation in the market, MKZ has been gaining on its market share, Tomšič says. "However, we do want the situation to normalise, considering we don't sell life necessities."

MKZ generated EUR 200,000 in operating profit on almost EUR 77m in sales revenues last year, but posted a loss of nearly EUR 900,000 due to financial obligations and impairments. Sales were down 8% from 2013.

According to its chairman, the company will meet the targets this year with operating figures roughly at last year's levels. But he says the trend of falling revenue has bottomed out.

The group used to employ more than 1,500 staff, which has now dropped to just over 900. Tomšič says the layoffs have been mostly in unprofitable activities and subsidiaries abroad, mainly through attrition.


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