Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, esteemed business partners, dear employees, it is a pleasure and an honour to stand here before you as your host and so share the pride I feel at this venerable anniversary of the company.
It is nice but unrewarding to talk about company. It is not only my, but rather our story, a story of 30 million visitors annually from Ljubljana, Murska Sobota, Novo Mesto and abroad. It is a story of generations that have lived and continue to live with BTC. Because of BTC, life in the capital is different today. It has fundamentally influenced the urban and consumer culture not only in the Slovenian society, but also in the middle-European region.
BTC is a business, sociological and cultural phenomenon. The history of its development is so clear that it allows no interpretations. All previous years have been years of implementing numerous projects, of intensive development and growth. And after we were left, following years of most thriving warehousing and logistics at the time, on, metaphorically speaking, “burnt and urbanistically degraded land”, we had vision and courage. Global examples and opportunities of the new age encouraged us to introduce continuously new business content and give the space a new urban image.
I can only say that few get the chance to create a new city, new value, barely comprehensible reality; only few have such dedicated and loyal co-workers. On the path of development we were joined by many who were carried by our vision and far-sightedness of our intentions.
We managed to create the largest business, shopping, recreational, entertainment and cultural centre not only in the central and South-Eastern Europe, but on the entire European continent. I am proud and thankful that numerous esteemed, internationally acknowledged as well as Slovene companies, such as Spar Slovenija, UniCredit Banka, Merkur, Magistrat International, Big Bang, Petrol, Clarus, Baby Centre and numerous other large, middle-sized and small companies have found their business purpose in this space and continue to fulfil their entrepreneurial mission. The fruits of our labour are the reason for my firm belief that BTC in Ljubljana, Novo Mesto and Murska Sobota will continue to generate the thriving of the society in the field of logistics and that our business partners will continue to accompany us on this journey.
However, BTC is also a European phenomenon! It’s a unique European success story, envied by Berlin, Milan, Amsterdam. It’s a Cinderella that has, almost at once, changed from boring grey warehouses into an urbanistically attired and architecturally modern urban young lady for business, culture, fun and sports, who knows what she wants. We have become an internationally acknowledged and successful business system!
None of this would be possible without excellent cooperation with the city of Ljubljana. BTC is not a city within the city, it’s a vital and attractive part of, in the words of our mayor, the most beautiful city, a part of an impressive university city, in the word of the distinguished rector of the University of Ljubljana. It is a case of mutual partnership and respect, perfectly exemplified by the Partnership Šmartinka project.
Successful presentation of the project at the global real-estate fair in Cannes clearly shows excellent work and exemplary cooperation of all partners in the new partnership spreading across 2,300,000 m2 or 230 hectares of building area. In addition, this project is already being implemented – in the context of humanization and horticultural management of the eastern part of the city, the mayor, Mr. Zoran Janković opened, during the 1st May holidays, together with co-workers and citizens, a new public park Šmartinka, located between the Žale cemetery and Šmartinska road.
I once again wish to congratulate the mayor and his team on thus giving Ljubljana new, beautiful green and park surfaces. In the following years, the park in question will be joined by an eminent central park.
The integral part of this great partnership is the already commenced construction of a 90-metre high-rise, the highest in the Republic of Slovenia and moreover, located in the area of BTC City Ljubljana, symbolizing the future development and modernity of our society.
The rise of the company spanning 55 years is not just a visionary flash of inspiration. It is not just hard work. The company’s success is based on knowledge. BTC is well aware that the society of the future is the society of knowledge and that knowledge is something that needs to be invested in. This is why we concluded a contract on partnership with the University of Ljubljana and why it is my exceptional honour and pleasure to host the University’s rector at the tonight’s event. This is why we award international scholarships through University of Ljubljana and create new jobs; this is why we were one of the founders of Slovenian Science Foundation and this is why we have, together with our partners, created the conditions to employ over 4500 people in our business environment. And this is why our company has sound foundations and answers to future challenges.
It is redundant to talk about current challenging times, since a pragmatic attitude in timely problem solving is one of our qualities, possible only due to the fact that our vision and future are clear. It is also redundant, since we are optimistic by nature and have faith in ourselves. And lastly, it is redundant, since we, in festive moments, look not only towards tomorrow, but believe in the day after that. In the words of the folk saying, the times are changing, and with them, so are we.
It is, however, important to talk about the new corporate paradigm, providing the basis for the new vision and upgrading the established work relationship and business practices of our company. It is a development path that includes instead of excluding and shares instead of just paying.
The involvement of employees and solidarity are two values of extreme importance to me. BTC was one of the first three Slovenian companies to have signed with the Government of the Republic of Slovenia the agreement on employee participation in profit sharing. We are one of the few Slovenian companies to have carried out an employee-managerial instead of managerial buyout, since the employees and former employees own 51 % of the company. I honestly believe that the employees are the ones, who, in the era of capitalism, represent not only human and social capital, but also create new added value, that is, new capital. I therefore believe that in the coming times, the employees are entitled not only to profits, but also to permanent participation in capital, in the sense of long-term co-ownership as the most responsible participants of the future economic development and thus more positive and socially supportable relationships in our society. And this represents my pledge to the employees for the coming times.
As a feature, new not only to the Slovenian, but to the European business sphere, we have established a “Council for open dialogue”, an external organ serving as consulting organ to the Management Board, with the goal of setting even clearer contours of the future programme and strategic development of the company. The Council includes eminent and well-intentioned individuals from various professions and generations. The business rebirth – renaissance of a formerly exclusively logistic company was initiated about twenty years ago and we do not yet intend to conclude the process; as you see, we decisively and responsibly plan the future, in which we wish, in co-operation with the newly established Council, to draw even clearer and in the business sense even more friendly guidelines for all our fellow passengers – visitors, business partners, employees and joint company owners.
I do not stand here before you tonight to enumerate dry facts. For that, we have statisticians and annual reports. Our plans are public and the models of new buildings are new waiting opportunities. And there are few companies who can present their future in such transparent forms. I stand here before you tonight because I am proud of you, of the path we have walked, of the new paradigm and new visions. I stand here before you tonight, because I enjoy your company. Because I want to share the joy with you, and not just the working day. I stand here before you because I respect your work and your efforts, because I respect your interests and business attitude, dear co-workers, business partners and friends, fellow passengers on the path of our development. I stand here before you, because today is a special day for all of us, BTC citizens!
Thank you for your attention.