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Steklarna Hrastnik Turns Heavy Losses into Profit

Hrastnik, 25 April (STA) - The Hrastnik-based glass manufacturer returned to profit last year, reporting close to EUR 1m in net profit on nearly EUR 50m in revenues, while the company said first-quarter results were also very encouraging.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) rose by 34% to EUR 4.9m and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) amounted to EUR 700,000 in 2011.

Net profit stood at EUR 958,000 after a loss of nearly EUR 2m the year before. The value added per an employee rose to EUR 28,000 from EUR 24,000 in 2010.

Steklarna Hrastnik chairman Andrej Božič attributes the results to flexibility, niche positioning and the capacity to produce cutting-edge products.

"We invest strongly in research, have our own development centre for new materials and initiate research in nano materials in glass industry," Božič has said.

He added that Steklarna Hrastnik, a company with a 150-year tradition, was capable of producing the purest glass in Europe, while it was also focusing on personnel development and cost optimisation.

The chairman said the results of this strategy were reflecting on this year's operations; the planned profit for the first quarter was surpassed more than six-fold and March saw record highs sales.

The company's reference business partners include global companies such as Hennessy, Finlandia, Leonardo, Villeroy & Boch, Roberto Cavalli, Heineken, Belvedere and RZB.

The company managed to move to a higher-end market in all three divisions - special container glass, table glassware and lighting glass.

On the downside, higher energy prices pushed up production costs. The price of natural gas, which is used for melting glass, rose by 28% in 2011, which Božič described as the biggest risk in the past year.

Steklarna Hrastnik plans to increase business with the existing buyers as well as increase its market shares outside Europe: in Russia, the US, Brazil, Mexico, African countries and Japan.

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