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Dragan Čigoja, Lidl Srbija CEO

Focus On Domestic Market, Consumers & Staff

Quickly after the opening of the first Lidl supermarkets in the country, it was clear to everyone, even those who aren’t economic experts, that the Serbian market had been entered by a company that would change the market itself. The expansion of the retail network, awards for the best employer in Serbia, and now the opening of a second Logistics Centre, represent just a few of the factors confirming that Lidl is here to stay

In order to get the lowdown on the new logistics centre in Lapovo, representing an investment exceeding 70 million euros, but also the future plans of this retail chain that’s beloved by many, we spoke with Lidl Srbija CEO Dragan Čigoja.

Until just over a month ago, all 60 of your stores were supplied from the Logistics Centre in Nova Pazova. However, your logistics have now received significant support in the form of a new logistics centre. What makes it special?

That’s right, over the past four years, starting with the first 16 stores and culminating with our more than 60 stores across the country now, supplies came from the logistics centre in Nova Pazova.

With the expansion of our network, it was also necessary to maintain a high level of efficiency, the full supplying of stores and the freshness of produce. That’s why we built, over the course of the previous year, a second logistics centre in Lapovo that opened in August and will take over the supplying of almost half of our stores and thus enable further growth.

It is specific primarily in terms of its size and storage capacity: it encompasses as much as 57,000 square metres, where we store 35,000 pallets of products in five distinct temperature zones adapted to product type. Another thing that I’d highlight is that this new, modern logistics centre was built in accordance with sustainability principles. It is its own source of energy: it receives as much as 30 per cent of the electricity it needs thanks to solar panels occupying an area of 10,000 square metres on the roof. Apart from that, we are in the process of obtaining the highest-level LEED certificate, which requires the fulfilling of a large number of conditions, such as optimising water use, contributing to a pleasant working atmosphere for employees, reducing energy use etc.

You always emphasise that the key to your success is represented by your employees. How many jobs have been created in Lapovo; and what are the advantages of working at Lidl?

The domestic market, consumers and employees are, and will forever be, in the focus of our development plans. The motto that guides us at Lidl is that employees are ’really important’, because they are the motor of our success. It was also with this same motto that we welcomed 250 new employees to the logistics centre in Lapovo, providing them with competitive conditions like a fundamental, modern working environment that eases work and additional benefits, such as private health insurance for all.

’With love, domestic’ is our way of supporting the Serbian economy, while simultaneously offering consumers products that have traditional flavours and are sourced exclusively from domestic producers. 

Furthermore, for those that hold operational positions, but also for colleagues in logistics, advanced contracts guarantee annual salary increases for the first four years in a given position. We also mustn’t forget to mention mentoring and the career development and knowhow advancement opportunities we provide employees, which go hand in hand with the fair relations that we nurture – which is why we’re the proud holders of the Top Employer certificate for the second consecutive year.

The opening ceremony of the Logistics Centre drew special attention to the theme of supporting domestic producers, or to your ’With love, domestic’ range of local products. What new additions to this segment can we expect?

’With love, domestic’ is our way of supporting the Serbian economy, while simultaneously offering consumers products that have traditional flavours and are sourced exclusively from domestic producers. That is our brand in the regular product range, which is characterised – in addition to its domestic origin – by products with a high level of quality. And we expanded it recently to include new products. This prompted us to launch a one-month campaign, running from 5th September to 5th October, through which we are donating 1 dinar from the sale of every ’With love, domestic’ product to support the work of the Red Cross of Serbia.

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