Getting to know our industry’s insiders. This month, Slavica Sterk of Adria UK
• Tell us about your current role – what do you do?
I’m managing director of Adria UK, a subsidiary of Adria Mobil in Slovenia. We run all operations from here in the UK – we define how the products should look for the UK market and we brief the manufacturers in Slovenia.
It’s up to us to find out what the UK customer wants. We then bring the vehicles over and they go direct to dealerships.
Everything is run through our base in Sudbury, in Suffolk, where we also have a warehouse for parts, so there are no language barriers. I’m from Slovenia but am now a British citizen.
• So all of the manufacture takes place in Slovenia?
Yes, Adria Mobil in Slovenia has the largest factory in the European RV industry, all under one roof. It was built 15 years ago and is very advanced.
The UK is Adria Mobil’s fourth biggest market, which is why we have so much influence over the products and a lot of autonomy. Adria UK is owned by Adria Mobil, which became part of the Trigano Group two years ago.
• How long have you been with the company?
I started at the Adria Mobil factory in Slovenia 20 years ago and then became responsible for Adria UK in 2007. For several years, I was sales director at Adria Mobil and managing director at Adria UK and I worked across both countries.
I’m now based in the UK, which I prefer, mainly because this is a smaller team and you can make quicker decisions.
• How did you first get into the industry?
Originally I studied biotechnology, then worked for 10 years in the food-processing industry. But I wanted to develop my knowledge of commerce, so I did a master’s degree in business studies and then joined Adria Mobil.
• What childhood memories do you have of touring?
We rented caravans at campsites in Slovenia and Croatia. It felt so free – running around the site, meeting other children, playing all the time, just coming back to the van to eat.
• What’s the best trip you’ve ever been on?
The North Cape in Scandinavia – we drove to the northernmost point of Europe and then back via Finland and Sweden and through Lapland. There were hours and hours of pine trees, it felt like we were on expedition.
Another trip was the NC500 in Scotland – wow! Beaches with white sand and turquoise sea, it was like the Maldives. There is so much to see.
• What’s special about your brand – what’s its USP?
At shows, customers say they come to our stand because they want to see something different. All of our products are modern and contemporary, and they appeal to people who value design.
We don’t try to make vehicles that look like a second home or a living room – they are RVs, so we make them functional, open and light.
Our ad campaigns focus on ‘contemporary design for living’ and ‘built to perform’. We are all about design and quality, with 55 years of history.
• What news from your brand, are there any new launches planned for this year?
All development is now running normally and
we plan to launch products as usual, but we have to support the dealerships with stock and to see how good the bounce-back might be now that the industry is beginning to open up again.
We hope that we get a lot of new customers and the gap of two months for the lockdown will be swallowed up in 2021, so if we take 2020 and 2021 figures as a whole, we end up with two good years.
• Where do you see the industry going?
In motorhomes, the trend is very much towards shorter, lighter models which have lower fuel consumption and are easier to manoeuvre. Development is going into 3.5t, but we will also offer larger models for people who want them.
When it comes to caravans, although we also offer smaller models, customers want big beds, kitchens, lounges and bathrooms, and when you put it all together you end up with larger vans.
• What’s on your playlist?
I like Queen, Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen.
• Favourite meal or recipe while out on tour?
On a short trip, I might prepare something simple in one pot, like king prawns, courgettes and noodles – easy peasy! It’s delicious.
• Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people!
I’m proud of the fact that a year ago, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. I enjoy extreme trekking and I like having the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and test my determination.