Muhamed Šehić and his Norwegian partner Kaare Haram jointly own Bærum Kjøkkensenter, an Oslo-based interior design company cooperating for more than a decade with two BiH firms that produce kitchens and bedrooms for the Norwegian market.
Bærum Kjøkkensenter annually imports around 700,000-800,000 euros worth of products from BiH, three quarters of which are kitchens from Begex from Hadžići near Sarajevo and the rest is solid wood bedrooms from Edra in Bosanski Petrovac.
Bærum Kjøkkensenter has five employees in design and business operations and four fitters. Begex, which exports to Switzerland and Austria too, has 50 employees and Edra has 6.
Šehić, who emigrated from BiH to Norway during the 1992-95 war, lists five key advantages for doing business in BiH.
A big advantage in my business and the products we sell here is the flexibility of the factory we cooperate with. All kinds of products can easily be made in the Begex plant in Hadžići near Sarajevo.
That is a big difference compared to other companies in that business which do serial production and for them it is very difficult to make some products that are not industry standard. Begex are flexible with the quantity but also when it comes to the changes in product design.
Begex is very professional when it comes to product quality and delivery. Since 2005, the quality has constantly improved. Our partner has very competent workers in every regard, be it designers or those involved in technical preparation.
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Of course, price plays a very big role and here we can count on having a price that allow us to fit within the Norwegian market. Other producers would be too expensive. This does not mean that we compromise with the quality. Both the price and the quality are competitive on the Norwegian market.
Most other kitchen producers import from Denmark, Sweden or Germany and their shipments travel several hours or can be on the location the next day.
We produce at the farthest location and our deliveries travel for 3-4 days but we are not disadvantaged at all because of this. The reason this is fully acceptable is that kitchen design, production and fitting are planned 5-6 weeks in advance, regardless of the company, so this timeframe is fine with us. This also gives the producer enough time to order fittings and raw material which come mainly from Austria and Germany.
It suits us very much that the Bosnian (convertible) marka has a fixed exchange rate against the euro (1 euro=1.95583 marka). There is no uncertainty, at least on that side, as we know that the price we had agreed on will not change.
The only problem we’ve had is linked to the transport of our products. BiH freight companies don’t have enough export licences issued by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations so sometimes they must wait for one of their trucks to come back to BiH before the other can leave with new export products, such as ours. With the companies themselves, we’ve had great cooperation, simply this issue is beyond their powers.