Borsec means more than two centuries of history. Countless international awards, the first of these dating back to 1873. In 2004 it was called “the best mineral water in the world”. It received the “Trusted Brand” distinction offered by Reader’s Digest Romania, nine years in a row. But tradition doesn’t stand for food nor water. Even for a brand with a history of over two centuries, the consistent investment in new technologies, logistics and effective marketing campaigns is essential to continue a successful story.
Romaqua Group was established in 1999, after the privatization of SC Regina Apelor Minerale SA Borsec, who continued the activity of Apemin factory from the communist period. Romaqua Group is recognized especially for the natural mineral water Borsec, but the company’s activity does not limit to that – in the Group’s portfolio there are also Albacher, Dorfer and Mülhbacher beers, Giusto and Giusto B.R.I.F.C.O.R. soft drinks, Giusto Natura still drinks, but also natural mineral water sold under other brands – Stânceni and Aquatique. We have discussed with Mr. Radu Lăzăroiu, general manager of the company about the success of the mineral water Borsec, the diversification of the product range and the development plans.
Mr. Lăzăroiu, how hard is it to sell drinking water?
First of all, I would like to mention that we sell to consumers natural mineral water of many kinds: naturally carbonated natural mineral water (Borsec), carbonated natural mineral water (Stânceni), still natural mineral water (Borsec and Aquatique). Our customers have knowledge about what both natural mineral water and table water mean. If you are honest and you do not sell lies, they become a loyal customer. However, it is more difficult to convince a consumer who is already worried, their suspicions being triggered by the actions of some unfair or incompetent competition.
What are, in your opinion, the main criteria according to which the consumer chooses a certain brand of mineral water?
Usually, the quality of the product, of the bottle, of the closure , consistency of the taste, the product’s image and awareness, and its accessibility. What are the characteristics that have established Borsec as one of the market leaders in Romania? As I have mentioned earlier, beside the product we also sell a truth; we are honest with the customer and everyone in Borsec city is aware of what natural mineral water means and behaves as such, so that any activity carried out in the factory or city does not affect this treasure. You should know that the majority of Boresc inhabitants come from families that were brought at the beginning of the 19th century to work in this factory. We have employees who are in the fourth or fifth generation, while 90% of the Borsec active population works in the factory. There is no family in Borsec in which at least one member isn’t working with us, or who does not depend on natural mineral water. I can say that it is a life philosophy in Borsec to take care of Borsec water.
What other products can we find in Romaqua Group portfolio, apart from the mineral water Borsec (still and sparkling)?
I would start with the presentation of the factories belonging to the Group: · Buşteni Factory – where Aquatique natural oligomineral water is bottled, water that has its source in Jepilor Valley in Bucegi Natural Park, right under the funicular that leads to Babelor and Sfinx plateau; also, here are bottled Giusto carbonated and still drinks; · Borsec Factory – where natural mineral water Borsec is bottled, the water springing from the Natural Reservation Scaunul Rotund; · Stânceni, Mureş Factory – where natural mineral water Stânceni is bottled, which has its spring in the Călimani Natural Park; · Sebeş Factory – where Albacher, Dorfer and Mülhbacher beers are produced and bottled; · Metropolitan Factory Bucharest – where Play sunflower seeds are packaged. As you notice, natural mineral water sources are found in protected areas. Borsec is one of the few brands of mineral water which can be found in glass bottles in stores.
What percentage of the total sales volume is represented by water sold in this sort of packages?
Unfortunately, the returnable packaging market for 1 litre bottles falls due to the fact that a large number of retailers don’t want this product any more, being it is too costly because they need storage space for filled as well as empty bottles, transportation is more expensive, thus resulting a small profit margin. However, we do bottle Borsec water in glass bottles of 0,25 l and 0,75 l, and in this case sales grow from year to year.
How did the company’s turnover evolve in the last years and what expectations do you have from 2014?
Since Romaqua Group S.A. was opened, the turnover has constantly increased and we hope that it will grow in 2014 as well; the signs are good, we are on the same ascending line.
Can you reveal some of the company’s development plans?
We want to get into top three in all product families that we keep in our portfolio in the next five years.