Centrally-situated Croatia makes an ideal base for brands expanding in the Balkans and beyond, says Ljiljana Kukec, MSc
Croatia is a fascinating middle-European and Mediterranean country in an excellent geographic position with long-proven touristic potential on its Adriatic Sea coast. Its historic capital, Zagreb, is only a few hours’ drive from major middle and east-European centers such as Vienna, Milan, Budapest, Sarajevo and Belgrade.
Croatia enjoys very good connections with the whole of Europe, has good road infrastructure and a high standard of living. This beautiful country is rich in natural resources and has a strong cultural heritage.
Croatia entered the European Union on July 1, 2013 as the 28th member state. There are a growing number of dynamic, innovative and internationally-competitive companies in Croatia ready to consider franchising as a growth strategy for their businesses and some important concerns have already taken that route.
These companies have strong potential for growth, and are set to become leading franchise companies in this part of the Europe.
The Croatia market is not yet saturated. With 200 franchise brands operating in the country and 88% penetration of international brands, Croatia is an important target for concepts looking to expand internationally.
Fashion brands have been a notable part of franchising’s rise in the country. Names such as Tekstil promet, Iris, Sportina, Europa 92 etc. are multi-brand world fashion franchisees.
Famous national franchise concept Surf’n’Fries (fast food with fries and dips) is attracting great attention from international investors. That franchise concept is already established in more than 50 countries, including USA, UAE, Russia, Germany, Iran, Romania and Vietnam.
Launched in 2009, the company has introduced several big innovations, including frying with hot air, which brought a competitive advantage to its business model and spurred growth in both the national and international market.
Well-known Croatian fashion brand Varteks (the biggest producer and exporter of textile in ex-Yugoslavia) is the name behind franchise concept Di Caprio (male and female business wear). For more than 22 years, this has been Vartek’s most important brand and Di Caprio is now offered as a franchise concept as well.
Recently, the biggest Croatian taxi company Cameo Taxi launched its own franchise concept and has very quickly become the biggest franchise chain in the country, outside of the food sector, where the biggest franchise chain is bakery concept Pek Snack.
Another bakery franchise concept attracted important international attention: Mlinar has a presence not only in Europe but in Australia and Asia too.
An important national franchise chain is AQUA, which has expanded the furthest of any Croatian brand. AQUA is franchised in Italy, Spain, Greece, Ukraine, Mexico and also in Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro.
Croatian tourist magazine Place2go may be the only franchise concept in the country’s publishing sector but it already has franchise editions in France, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The French franchise edition Horizons Monde was awarded by the French tourist journalist association “Alliance Francophone Internationale du Tourisme et des Voyages” as best tourist magazine in France.
Business sector growth
Occupying an important place in Croatian franchising is slimming academy Body Creator. This concept is based on a proven method and 18 years of experience. Body Creator currently operates in Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Its slimming method is recognized by the medical community and health associations in the region as well as among the clients all over the region.
In the matter of franchising, Croatia is the most developed country in the region and high growth rates are predicted. The EU accession resulted in the breaking down of many barriers, creating an environment conducive to business sector growth.
Croatia is an important doorway to the region and except Slovenia is the only country in the region that has a national franchise association and institutions that are supporting development of franchising in the country.
The following institutions/companies can provide valuable assistance and expert advice to franchisers seeking potential franchisees in Croatia:
Croatian Franchise Association – (www.fip.com.hr). email@example.com
Croatian chamber of economy, Center for franchising
The Franchise Center Osijek – a small business development center located in the eastern, continental part of Croatia which specializes in the promotion of the franchise industry in that region. The Franchise Center Osijek is the owner of the most informative and influential franchise portal in Croatia, their official website (www.fransiza.hr).