Water is not only a source of life, but also a necessary condition for good health and an essential component of a balanced diet. It is a well-known fact that living organisms can hardly do without water. What is more, our wellbeing levels also depend on it.
Experts suggest drinking at least 2 litres of water per day and this piece of advice remains valid not only with sportsmen or those on the go, but with each and every one of us. No wonder, then, that the bottled water industry is growing in an exponential manner and that numerous companies have literally tapped into this auspicious market trend. One such company is Polska Woda Sp. z o.o. [LLC], which has made its presence felt as a producer of highly popular brands of spring water, including Primavera. Already presented in our magazine, the business thrived so much in recent years that we decided to come up with an update. Hence the idea to interview Mr Krzysztof Jatczak, Chairman of the Board.
Polska Woda would not be able to celebrate success, if it wasn’t for Customer satisfaction. In order to win it, however, you have to first combine unique purity with the right taste. Primavera spring water, which is the company’s flagship product, comes from 473 metres underground, one of the best isolated, pristine and purest aquifers in Poland. The water seeps down through purifying filters of rocks and sediments and reaches as deep as the Lower Cretaceous formation. This natural process of filtration is the main reason why Primavera can now stand for impeccable clarity and provide the right proportion of healthy minerals such as calcium or magnesium. Recommended by the Children’s Memorial Health Institute, this water makes a perfect ingredient in meals for infants and baby toddlers. Very Low in sodium, it is also fit for the elderly, people with hypertension and kidney problems as well as those on medication. “Our top quality water undergoes painstaking laboratory analysis every hour. We want to make sure that, on reaching our Customers’ doorstep, our bottled water is just as impeccable as that straight from the source,” adds Mr Krzysztof Jatczak, President of the Board. In order to achieve this, the company has put a number of quality systems in place, including IFS, which is a successful form of support to the long-existing HACCP.
What’s new: human resources
To be reliable, every business has to build on its people. For this reason, our update begins with human resources. Over the past few years only one significant change has taken place in this area. “We have taken on a new managing director, a seasoned professional now responsible for sales and Primavera’s marketing strategy. We count on his resolve and proactive attitude. With a new director on board, we will be able to raise market awareness and reach large numbers of new Customers. I’m sure that our sales will soon soar as a result,” emphasises Mr Chairman. “I should also add that over the past few years we have remained almost intact as a team. As any team, we also need some cosmetic changes, however. In 2012, we employed 107 people. We are planning to reduce this figure to 100 in 2013. The decision has been made as part of the streamline process that seeks better performance of equipment and fosters effectiveness.
Worth their weight in gold
Some things have remained relatively the same, however. Since its inception, the company has championed the strategy to invest in top class engineers. This has been complemented by a series of research initiatives to bring innovative solutions. “With their know how and years of experience, our employees are certainly worth their weight in gold. Just as essential are their ground-breaking ideas and enthusiastic approach. We also find it very important to work in a friendly atmosphere,” says Mr Chairman. Conducive to such atmosphere is open communication. This also remains key to brainstorming, which proves to be a successful method to develop different implementing scenarios. Once selected, such a scenario is then completed in a consistent and regular manner. “Consistency is our golden rule. Each and every one of us strives to put this rule into practice every day,” adds MrJatczak.
„As far as technology is concerned, we have had a new SIPA machine installed. By doing so, we have increased our processing capacity to 10 million bottles per month. We have also launched a new IT system to monitor and streamline our production,” emphasises Mr Chairman. Apart from sheer output, the strategic assets of the company also include state-of-the-art solutions and constant innovation. Last year’s innovations brought Primavera water in a modern-looking, 2-litre, square bottle. This year’s innovations are bringing two new formats to the market, rather rare so far, still water marketed in 1-litre bottle and 1.5-litre, square bottle. “Water marketed in 1-litre bottles is now the fastest growing segment of our industry in Europe. In Poland there is still a room for improvement and we are blazing the trail in this area. We are also Poland’s leading producer of water in large, economical, 5- or 6-litre bottles
PolskaWoda has also announced to invest in its facilities. The company plans to purchase and install a new packaging line and replace its old PET preform machine with a new one. “We are keen to invest only in state-of-the-art, energy-saving and efficient machinery,” adds Mr Chairman. It should be added that in 2012 alone the business spent 6 million EUR worth of investment and in 2013 it will be yet another 1.5 million EUR. The scale of investment in 2014 and the years to come is in turn largely dependent on the market situation and the changing needs of the Clients.
The water industry is now evolving in two directions. First, the sales figures of private labels are on the rise, which may be considered a side-effect of the current economic slowdown, but it also may be seen as the effort on the part of the retailers to promote their brand. Second, flavoured water is becoming increasingly popular, which nevertheless cannot be qualified as water because of sweeteners and artificial aromas it contains. Functional water, too, starts to appear in the market, including magnesium, iodinated and mineral enhanced waters. “We are ready to launch the production of flavoured and functional waters as of today. We believe, however, that our crystal clear spring water can satisfy even the choosiest and the most fashion-informed of our Clients. The best evidence to prove that we are heading in the right direction is the Business Gazelle Statuette received in 2011,” highlights Mr Leszek Rodak Sales and Marketing Director.
To benefit the environment
Last but certainly not the least, a few words on the initiatives that PolskaWoda undertakes to benefit the environment. One remark needs to be made in this respect. For the water industry, being in harmony with nature is not merely a matter of fashion or the requirements and quotas imposed by European bureaucrats. For this particular industry, the environment is in fact a matter of life and death as it simply subsists on pristine water resources. The management at PolskaWoda is perfectly aware of this. Hence the idea to economise on bottles, which are now the lightest on the market and friendly to the environment. “In order to streamline and use our resources more wisely, we have just launched a new 1.5-litre bottle that weighs only 23 g (4 g less than before) and 2-litre bottle that weighs 28 g, which is roughly the same as the old 1.5 litre bottle used to weigh. This will help us to improve the capacity of the bottle without increasing its weight. A lower level of resources used means lower costs of transport, which is beneficial both to the business and the environment,” explains Mr Jatczak. In addition to this, bottles turned out by PolskaWoda have no unnecessary safety rings under their lids, which makes them lighter by approx. 2 g. Over the past few years, PolskaWoda has managed to cut down on a number of resources, which means it consumed around 300 tonnes of PET, 500 tonnes of shrink film and 150 tonnes of paper less than expected. If we calculate these into energy, we will obtain the equivalent of 76, 000 MWh. To produce such a vast amount of energy, one would have to burn wood produced from 450 hectares of pristine forest. “We take great pride in the savings we have made. This constitutes our pioneering contribution to the environment,” recaps Mr Chairman. This also testifies to the company’s wisdom and responsibility, a feature that many other businesses across many other industries have yet to learn.