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AHA Mura Boss Looking at Tough 2013, But Remains Hopeful (interview)

Murska Sobota, 25 December (STA) - Matjaž Hudopisk, the head of AHA Mura, has told the STA that the successor of the former clothes making giant Mura will face in 2013 one the toughest years in the fashion industry but that the company is hopeful about securing new buyers and ending the negative trend from the second half of 2012.

Hudopisk said that it was difficult to speak of consolidated figures, as AHA Mura was formed with the merger of AHA Moda and Mura in partnerji only a few months ago, but added that sales have dropped significantly in the second half of the year and the company would finish 2012 in the red.

While Mura managed to break even in 2011, Hudopisk said that planned cost cutting measures were not implemented effectively enough and that the company "did not adjust to the changing circumstance fast enough".

"This is our task for next year," he said, speaking among other things about securing potentially lower costs of material and reexamining existing contracts of the Murska Sobota-based company.

As regards production plans, Hudopisk explained that around 10% is still being produced for the Mura brand, with the goal for the future being a "so called full service, where we would provide everything for the buyer".

"They make the design and we use it to provide models, sampling, supply of material, sewing and final supply. This is the strategy we have set down."

Commenting on Mura's recent purchase of a plant in Serbia, which entails a five-year deal with German company Hugo Boss, one of Mura's key clients, Hudopisk said that buyers want products from regions with low labour costs while they also want to avoid having to organise such production or negotiate with local suppliers.

"This was the main reason why Boss asked us, as a long-standing supplier, to organise production. Our condition of course was that work be secured for this region, but work that will not affect the extent of operations in Murska Sobota," he said, explaining that two separate contracts had been signed with Boss.

According to Hudopisk, such long-term assurances are potentially an important reason why Boss is sticking to its promises and providing Mura with work despite a substantial drop in fashion clothing sales in Europe.

"Because Boss was not able to provide orders for as many men's suits as agreed, they compensated it with men's coats. While this means some production adjustment for us, we are definitely ready to oblige if this means additional orders or compensation."

Looking at the situation of the company's 1,500-plus workers, he said they will unfortunately have to give up on the holiday bonuses secured in recent years for now. "We agreed with workers' representatives and trade unions that this will be reexamined immediately after New Year's."

The company is meanwhile in what Hudopisk sees as promising talks for the autumn-winter season 2013 after opportunities for the spring-summer season have been partially missed.

Asked whether he was sorry to have taken on as big a challenge as Mura, Hudopisk said that Mura was one of the few bigger companies to have survived in Slovenia and remained an important brand.

"Irrespective of past developments, including receivership, it has a great reputation here, it is a very recognisable brand and I feel it is right that we try to do all we can to restore respect for this company."

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