EU4BusinessRecovery: Conita from Tešanj creates jobs and improves business management model
“In Europe, they use different socks for different seasons and they all have an expiration date,” have been the words serving as our introduction to Conita d.o.o., an Ltd. from Tešanj, one of the textile, apparel, footwear and leather enterprises supported by the project EU4BusinessRecovery, co-funded by the European Union and the Republic of Germany and jointly implemented by GIZ, ILO and UNDP.
The firm from Tešanj is working for foreign clients for over twenty years and their entire production and assortment of socks are intended for export. Lately, they have been trying to expand their offer to also include other apparel but, for the time being, are proud to produce as many as 30,000 pairs of socks a day.
“When first established, we worked for only one Italian client but, since then, have added another client also from Italy, a leading European clothing manufacturer. The support offered through EU4BusinessRecovery was especially important to Conita because during the pandemic, for the first time since our beginnings, we suffered financial losses. Specifically, the company did not generate any revenue for an entire year but kept paying wages to keep our employees. Unlike many of the firms in our industry that were forced to close over the period, we managed to 'get back on our feet' and, thanks to the assistance provided by the European Union and International Labour Organisation in BiH, even improve our business process and stabilise our production,” says Nešad Škapurević, company owner and Manager.
EU4BusinessRecovery provided Conita from Tešanj with an integrated assistance package comprising a grant, technical assistance through funding counselling and investments, specialised support for the implementation of occupational health and safety measures, and facilitating development of the company's business improvement plan based on ILO methodology.
Mr Škapurević proudly notes: „We are especially grateful because the Project assistance allowed us to procure a socks ironing machine, which helped expedite the work process, reassign two workers to other jobs, and make savings. The machine was instrumental also to the introduction of a new work schedule and we no longer need night shifts that were particularly hard on our workers, so this will improve their work conditions and significantly advance the business process in Conita. Furthermore, we are trying to stop working Saturdays so that our employees can have more free time”.
The Manager also added that Conita decided to invest in another machine to further better the business process in the „sock kingdom”. Although faced with constant migration of staff abroad and insufficient number of trained and qualified textile workers entering labour market each year, they underscore that, thanks to the EU and ILO assistance, the company upped the number of employees from 81 to 106 and plan to increase their capacities further this year as well.
“Procuring new machines enabled the company to meet the needs of a new client, who wants to cooperate with us both on introducing new sock designs and on increasing our daily production to 50,000 pairs of socks. Given the client’s demand and needs, in 2023, we decided to invest around one million Euro to build a 3000 m² production plant that would make it possible to increase our production and provide better working conditions to our workers. By securing new manufacturing and storing space and the equipment such as an industrial steam boiler, compressors and irons, we would increase the present annual production of around 6.5 million to 10 million pairs of socks a year. Hopefully, the construction works start in March or April and we will move into the new building by the end of the year,” says Mr Škapurević.
In Conita, they informed us also that, in addition to producing 50,000 pairs of socks a day, they plan to use the roof of their future building to house a 450 MWh solar power plant. The plant is planned to give around 320 MWh of energy per year, which would cover the company needs and the needs of its clients, who are keen to switch production to renewable energy sources.
As part of support through EU4BusinessRecovery, the Tešanj company committed to adopt and implement the ILO programme Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) in its production process. They find the SCORE methodology to be very useful and underline that Conita has already started implementing the business improvement plan meant to increase their capacities and better their business model.
Finally, the company wants to keep their present staff and even create new jobs over the incoming period because 70% of their production is manual. They say workers are their primary focus and no robot could serve as a replacement for the capacities they require.