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2016 September October Marina World

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COVER STORY: ACI Building a brand of consistent quality After spending one year on the supervisory board at Adriatic Croatia International Club (ACI), Dr. Doris Perucic was promoted to CEO, a post she held for nearly three years before moving on to new challenges last month (August). Prior to leaving ACI, she spoke to Marina World in June about ongoing marina operations. MW: Please outline the current status of ACI, recent changes and investment in infrastructure. DP: We have 22 marinas including the newly constructed ‘Veljko Barbieri’ Marina Slano. In 2015, we started work on the maritime part of Marina Cres in the Kvarner region and then rebuilt Marina Pomer in Istria to give it a new visual identity like Marina Slano. We have been concentrating on building a brand so as to create consistency amongst all our marinas. We are now preparing to do the same for Marina Rovinj in the north [Istria]. We will start after the season ends and our aim is to reduce the number of berths but create berths for larger vessels. We will make it a real destination as it sits alongside a hotel that is being completely refurbished. We are also focusing on improving our smaller marinas and have plans for Marina Opatija [in Kvarner]. This will have a major refurbishment but not in time for next season as the planning takes time. We are also focusing on restaurants. Every marina has a restaurant but we are now imposing a quality ‘gastro’ standard. All of the restaurants are franchised but their quality reflects on ACI so it’s important to ensure that customers are happy. MW: Do you plan any more marinas? DP: We’d like to but ACI receives no financial support from the state. Everything we spend has to come from our own profits. We have to compete alongside private companies on a level playing field for any purchases. But, in saying that, there are very few tenders for marinas in Croatia anyway. MW: What are your operational challenges? DP: We own around 30% of the berths in Croatia and we need to accommodate larger vessels in order to compete. Our main challenge is thus to meet the needs of today. MW: Are your berth holders mainly Croatian or from overseas? DP: Mainly from overseas. Charter is a strong element and is considered ‘Croatian’ although the charter companies come Marina Cres in the Kvaerner region is situated in the centre of the largest but most sparsely populated Adriatic island. Cres is a nature lover’s paradise and the Blue Flag marina offers 461 recently refurbished berths. from various countries. Around 63% of berth holders are from Germany, Austria and Slovenia. We have 114,000 transit days per year. Doris Perucic MW: What is your flagship marina? DP: Marina Rovinj will probably be the best of our marinas when it is finished. MW: Do any marinas have winter traffic? DP: There are still regattas before the season opens and after it closes. Activity is much reduced but there is still life in many of the marinas during the off season. MW: There have been industry rumours about potential buy-outs of ACI. Is ACI for sale? DP: We are not in the process of privatisation and ACI is not for sale. But much depends on the decision of the new government when it is in place. Our concession lasts until 2030 and, according to the current laws, a new tender will be issued when this expires. ACI will have to compete with others in order to retain the concession. MW: This must be a problem? DP: It requires careful thinking. We have to measure our spending cautiously because of the low return on investment likely in just a 14 year period. Marina Pomer, viewed through the restaurant, has been extensively modernised to fit in with new ACI branding. - September/October 2016 41

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