Photo by: Petar Fabijan
Varteks must become the most innovative fashion house in Croatia
In early 2018, on its 100th birthday, the former textile giant Varteks was on its last legs, burdened with debt, with workers leaving and retail sales decreasing. Nenad Bakić became the new Chairman of the Management Board. The well-known investor and entrepreneur recently found himself in a business nobody expected him in: he entered the world of fashion.
Recently you took over Varteks, the company that despite its know-how and long tradition in textile production was on the brink of bankruptcy. When the news about the recapitalisation and your involvement got out, you said that this was not a situation you wanted to find yourself in.
Yes, in recent years I‘ve been devoted to our charity project, the development of education in Croatia and neighbouring countries through the Croatian Makers Movement, which is now the largest such project in the EU. In fact, I’d rather be a passive investor, but, of course, a large share also means a more active involvement. So, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy and, as a large shareholder, I responded to the call for recapitalisation. Since practically no one else was interested, I almost became the majority shareholder. I wasn’t thrilled with this situation, but I had to take responsibility not only towards the employees but also towards Varaždin and the Varaždin County. Varteks’ slow death, continuing for a few dozens years, had already worn them out.
You are known as an investor who prefers diversifying the investment portfolio with emphasis on high technologies. What is your motive to take on the role not only of an investor but also of the Chairman of the Managing Board and the main operative in the case of Varteks?
It turned out that the state the company was in was much more difficult than it was declared in the call for recapitalisation, and previous managing boards weren’t able to stimulate business in order for us to reach a completely new level. Because of the difficult problems Varteks has inherited, it can only succeed if it once again becomes the undisputed leader in top quality and design, and, at the same time, the most innovative fashion house in Croatia. Some of the innovations we are introducing are important at the European level as well. At the same time, it’s essential to change the corporate culture in a much faster way, which can only be done from the top executive position. I’ve had to dedicate myself completely to it and read and learn a lot. Today, the knowledge of everything is widely available; it’s the same with fashion. What you need most is willingness and work ethics. Management and entrepreneurial skills are universal.