Dec 3, 2021

Interview of the CEO / President of the Management Board of Alkaloid AD Skopje for the Serbian magazine “Nedeljnik”

Success is measured by quality, but also by solidarity and satisfaction of the people

Modern production plants, latest machines, laboratory, and development center located in a separate building... State of the art, most sensitive control and measurement equipment, plenty of young and educated people...

It is what the Skopje-based factory Alkaloid looks like. We share these impressions with the CEO and President of the Management Board Zhivko Mukaetov, who hosted us at the anniversary of one of the most famous Macedonian and ex-YU factories.


How did Alkaloid transform and change over the 85 years in business?

- Alkaloid was a pillar of the new industry even when it was established as a morphine base extraction plant back in 1936, with only fifteen employees. Even during the systemic transformation and radical change, Alkaloid managed to pave its path to success. The commitment to development and strategic investment decisions were the key to the success. Continuous investment, commitment to growth, and sustainable development have made Alkaloid what it is today - the sixth-largest pharmaceutical industry in Southeast Europe. It has more than 2,000 employees at its Skopje headquarters and over 500 abroad. The company currently sells products in over 40 countries worldwide and has a marketing network of 20 offices in 14 countries outside Macedonia.


How do you see the beginning of the third decade of the third millennium?

- At the beginning of this third millennium, the company made several strategically significant decisions to build up its capacity and globalize the Alkaloid brand. The investment in new technology, complete digitalization of processes, doubling the number of our offices outside Macedonia, opening plants in Serbia, establishing the Research and Development Institute and the Quality Control Center are worth mentioning. This investment, worth more than €200m, helped us grow our sales in the last 15 years from €53m to the expected over €205m at the end of this year. The intense lifestyle change we are undergoing today is unprecedented. This health crisis at the beginning of the third decade of the third millennium taught us many important lessons, accelerating the development of new skills, creativity, and innovation in the company. We also adapted our strategy to the new age and market demands. The year of our 85th birthday was full of challenges and uncertainty. We have always focused on our human resources, making it our imperative to build a company of satisfied people who invest their full potential to achieve our joint success.


What does the Serbian market represent for the company, not only as an export market but strategically too?

- Serbia has been part of the 85-year-old Alkaloid story for seven and a half decades. It speaks enough about the friendship, understanding, closeness of language and culture, and our tradition in this market. Serbian pharmacists say Alkaloid drugs have never come out of the yellow register book of drugs. Serbia is the first country outside Macedonia where we have set our own production and wholesale operations, employing 145 people. It also speaks volumes about how strategically important this market is to us. Alkaloid’s production program in Serbia includes over 160 pharmaceutical products. I would certainly mention our Becutan brand that has helped raise generations in the region.


What production capacities has the company lately invested the most in to achieve its development plans?

- Most of the investment in the past 20 years has gone into the development and production of pharmaceuticals, children's cosmetics, and teas. More than 65% of our sales are for export, while two decades ago it was the other way around 65% went in the domestic market. It gives me great pleasure to see Alkaloid's Made-in-Macedonia logo on the shelves of exclusive stores in North America. We have added Canada, Italy, Austria, Spain, and Portugal to the list of new markets in the past couple of years and intend to stay focused on globalizing the Alkaloid brand.


What are your plans for future investment and development?

- Alkaloid's business success primarily mirrors the quality of our human resources and products and the Alkaloid corporate brand itself. It also follows the quality of our individual brands that generations before us have built. While investing in business development, we will keep investing in the community in which we live and work too, making it our top priority. Alkaloid and the Trajche Mukaetov Foundation donated over €1.2m last year. About €300,000 of it went to the countries of the region, including Serbia. In the spirit of our motto - Health above all, Alkaloid will remain committed to the positive values of credibility, professional integrity, humanity, and human solidarity above all.