Zagorka brewery, established in Stara Zagora, enters in its second century of operation. In 1994, Zagorka AD became part of the HEINEKEN global family. Since then, for more than 20 years now, over 133 million euro have been invested in Zagorka AD for processes modernisation and increase of the production capacity. Currently, the brewery in Stara Zagora is one of the most modern and innovative in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.
Nikos Zois is General Manager of Zagorka AD since June, 2016.
Nikos Zois, General Manager of Zagorka AD
Sustainability has been at the core of Zagorka’s business strategy for years. Where do you focus your sustainable development efforts at present and what goals are you striving to achieve?
We at Zagorka believe that a successful business is a sustainable business. As a company with over 110 years of history, a company with a portfolio of brands that Bulgarians love, a company which is part of the most international brewer worldwide – Heineken, we believe in the long-term approach to creating sustainable value for our business and our stakeholders.
Our corporate social responsibility is incorporated within the Brewing a Better World platform, which is a business imperative for Heineken, and Zagorka applies it in Bulgaria.
A long-term project in Bulgaria, which we take very seriously is Zagorka Green Fund. We launched Zagorka Green Fund in 2011, and this year marks its seventh edition.
In 2016, we also commenced with initiatives related to responsible consumption. These initiatives include our own campaign Game Over – Alcohol is not a Game, which focuses upon the harm of underage alcohol consumption. In 2016 Heineken announced a significant global partnership with Formula One Management, and ran the campaign for responsible consumption stating “If you drive, never drink” with ambassador Sir Jackie Stewart.” In 2017 we continue to actively communicate the problem related to alcohol consumption by minors.
In 2017 we published our third annual Sustainability Report, where we summarise the progress related to the platform Brewing a Better World. At Zagorka we set focus on protecting water resources, reducing CO2 emissions, sourcing sustainability, promoting health and safety, advocating responsible consumption and support for the local communities. A major goal for the company is to have influence in the spheres in which it operates and to which it can bring positive change.
Also, 100% of the fridges purchased by Zagorka over the past year are energy efficient. This is part of the long term Heineken policy to have “green” fridges, which save 30% energy.
In regard to sustainable resources, the endeavors of Zagorka are directed to maintaining a sustainable supply chain, based on buying materials from Bulgarian suppliers and support for the Bulgarian economy.
Zagorka reported a record high operating profit in 2016. What are the main factors influencing your performance?
Zagorka AD continues to maintain its excellent financial performance as a company oriented towards providing high quality and innovative products, inspirational campaigns, and implementing very good green initiatives, which are part of the platform Brewing a Better World. We are also oriented toward efficient processes, and rely on our very capable and engaged people. The last green action through our brand Ariana was to remove the upper paper label from our PET bottles, having partnership with ECOPACK.
Bulgaria and WWF Bulgaria – we help nature in a positive campaign, which is very well accepted from our consumers.
Which segments do you view as the most promising in terms of sales growth?
The trend we actively see in the premium beers segment is related to new tastes and ingredients. The global trend regarding health, which is coming to Bulgaria as well, is focused in the low and no alcohol products. Bulgaria’s beer sales hit an eight-year high in 2016.
What main trends do you see shaping up the local beer market in the short term?
Bulgaria has long brewing traditions and consumers are well aware of the qualities of good beer. According to data of the Union of Brewers in Bulgaria, in 2016, the volume of the beer market has reached 5.2 million hectolitres and average consumption per capita of 73 litres.
When we refer to trends and development, at the present moment, they are directed toward innovations in main segments, which are to answer to the needs of the consumers. We can expect new offers, as well as we hope for active discussion related to the positive story of beer.
What are your investment plans for the next three years?
We plan additional investments in our brewery in Stara Zagora, we also focus on responsible energy and water use and applying state-of the art practices within the working process.
The health and safety of our employees will continue to be very important to us, alongside the care for the local community and responsible consumption. No business plan will work without people, and our priority will be precisely this – the development and care for the people.
The Zagorka brewery is one of the most modern and innovative enterprises within the Heineken group and we are very proud of the fact that we have a brewery, which has managed to keep its traditions and identity and at the same time creates innovations.