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Slovenian bathroom maker ventures into new territory

Lendava, 23 September (STA) - Varis, one of the leading manufacturers of prefabricated bathrooms in Europe, has been doing well despite the coronavirus pandemic. It is now preparing to venture into production of wooden bathrooms and other sustainable prefabricated buildings.

The family-run business is building a new, 2,500-square-meter production hall adjacent to existing facilities in Lendava in north-eastern Slovenia.

According to the company's director, Sabina Sobočan, they hesitated for some time whether they should start building it at all, given the circumstances during these uncertain times, but as soon as they received the building permit, the process started.

During the corona crisis, Varis did not face any delays either within the company or their installations abroad. They say that the new hall is not being built in order to increase sales, but mainly to create higher value added with new products.

"Our value adde already reaches almost EUR 50,000 per employee, but we want to develop new products, because without innovation and investment you can't stay on top," explained Sobočan.

The company generates three quarters of its sales revenue in Germany, where it has a 15% market share. Other important markets are Austria and Switzerland, but they want to expand into other markets as well.

Its main product remains prefabricated bathrooms made of self-compacting lightweight concrete. In the past, most of them were made for hotels, while recently they have recorded greater demand for their products in housing, hospitals, student dormitories and nursing homes.

They are now studying the behaviour of wood in damp conditions, as they plan to replace the concrete frame with a wooden frame.

Last year the company posted record sales of EUR 31.4 million, an increase of 74.5% compared to 2018. They also recorded an 84% increase in the number of bathrooms built, and they expect a positive outcome this year as well.

Varis has increased its revenue 2.5-fold over the last five years, and has kept on working at full capacity during the pandemic.

The only problem that persists in Varis is the lack of staff. There are now 250 employees, but skilled tile layers, painters, fitters, electricians, masons and even engineers are hard to come by, as are unskilled workers. They are also looking for staff for field work, organization and planning.

While salaries in construction usually reach 75% of average salary in the country, the gross monthly salary in Varis in February was around EUR 1,730, close to the national average.

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