One is drawn to heights, the other to distances. This is where brothers Pavel and Zdenek Laznic differ. What they have in common is Hannibal’s overseas stores, which have a turnover of 200 million crowns this year. And also the desire to do business differently. sustainably.
Two brothers who have been working together for over twenty years don’t usually go on vacation together. While the older Pavel climbs hills with peaks more than seven thousand meters high, Zdeněk, four years younger, goes hiking. Maybe a thousand kilometers long.
But the last time they agreed to go on vacation together. And a compromise won – a flight in the Himalayas at an altitude of more than five thousand meters. They also made concessions in business, because they didn’t always agree over twenty-three years of business. But they both knew all along that the exponential growth in elephant-themed stores, staff and turnover was not something they would like.
It’s hard to believe, but it really showed: “We don’t focus on money. When asked why there are two brick-and-mortar stores in Prague and one in Brno, Pavel Laznica replied “We don’t turn up the heat just to get more of them.” .
And so Hannibal grows slowly, organically, by about ten percent each year. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Last year’s turnover, which is half of stores and half of online stores, was 160 million, and the profit was just over ten million. Ideally, this year’s shift would begin with the number two. The deciding factor will be the desire of customers for the Christmas period.
Lázničeks did not deliberately start a sales network of dozens of stores. reason? “We’re obsessed with quality and very concerned with the quality of service in the store. We’re afraid that with so many branches we won’t be able to maintain the quality set,” the younger Zdenek explains of one of the cores of their business, which in Hannibal relies more on premium and more expensive products.
They only opened a new store when they had enough experienced people willing to work there. “For example, there would be nothing in Brno if our three employees had not moved there, and then they came up with the idea that they would like to open our store there,” adds Pavel Laznica. The two brothers also admit that they do not want to get involved in the business, which will be intense when the number of branches increases several times.
One of the themes that resonates with Hannibal is sustainability. And no, it’s not a modern cry. Pavel and Zdeněk were both scouts, which influenced their approach to the planet. “We were brought up with the understanding that it is important to always be fair and not to harm. But everyone who conducts business harms nature in some way, ”explains Pavel Laznica.
This is why Hannibal directs aid to nature from the start rather than to people. So he started buying green electricity at a time when almost no one thought of it, he gives money to plant roads in the Czech Republic and subsidizes the purchase and conversion of forest on the slopes of the Ještěd mountain range in the Jizera Mountains. Lázniček spends more than ten percent of its annual earnings on these activities.
The fact that Hannibal agents haven’t taken a plastic bag with them for years may seem like a small thing. Not even if they wanted to buy it. Five years ago, when Pavel Laznica saw Hannibal’s plastic bag being trampled into a glacier in a photo, it was the last straw for him. Then he started looking for an alternative solution. The result is spare bags of tents intended for disposal, which Hannibal also supplies to Decathlon.
“When we started, it was absolute hell at first because at that time you had plastic bag free everywhere. People hated it, shop assistants hated it, confronted customers. When I almost gave up, it broke and people started asking for our bags,” recalls Pavel Laznica. It is large and customers have learned to store sports equipment in it.
Plus, the idea also caught European tent manufacturers, who would send discarded pieces to Hannibal so that instead of throwing them away, they could be turned into something that would still be useful. The philosophy of sustainability also works with the online shop, as Hannibal uses used boxes.
The company is doing well and the brothers decided three years ago that it was time to let them go. So, they hired a manager, whom they initially let work for them for two and a half years, only to finally retire from the day-to-day executive after twenty years. They both admit that it was a difficult move mentally. “It’s an ego boost because you have to accept that someone else will do it better than you, but that’s what it’s all about.” The result of the change is that the business is running better than it was when he ran it.
Then the freed hands led them to a new business. But they stayed in their waters. Three years ago, they joined forces with Ostrava Patizon, which had excellent sleeping bags made in Poland according to its own design. “We bought half of it, but we weren’t pedantic about contracts. In a few months, the Polish manufacturer said it would stop production for us, and we had nothing on hand but fabric cuts or production technology,” says Zdeněk Láznička.
They unplanned invested three million in repeated development and began to produce sleeping bags and now, down jackets in two locations in the Czech Republic, the products are shipped not only to stores in the Czech Republic, but also to Western Europe, Scandinavia, and the countries of Yugoslavia Previous, and recently to South Korea.
“We have struggled for two years, but now we sell thousands of sleeping bags a year and the growth is insane. Last year’s sales were six million and this year it will reach fifteen,” the younger brother estimated, adding that he expects greater numbers of down jackets in the future rather than sleeping bags. “Using recycled materials, feathers from the European Union, development and production in the Czech Republic… this blend is something that works overseas and sells well,” he adds.
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