History of Semenarna Ljubljana
MORE THAN 110 FRUITFUL YEARS
From the small seed shop in the middle of Ljubljana, which operated in 1906, until today the business of Semenarna Ljubljana has expanded in the field of retail, wholesale and export.
The year 2006 was an important year for Semenarna Ljubljana. A hundred years have passed since the company was established and embarked on its journey in 1906 at a stand under the Ljubljana’s Kresija as the "Seed Store of Maks Sever". Since those days, Semenarna Ljubljana has become one of the best seed-producing organisations in the region.
Anniversaries, even those of a respectable age, would not be special if they did reflect the thousands of small things which have accompanied the development of the company until today. This raises the question of what events had transpired in the history of Semenarna Ljubljana making it so special that keeping company alive during crises and at turning points. Only few companies in Slovenia can pride themselves on a hundred-year tradition.
Maks Sever, 1935
1906: Sever&Co. – Establishment of the company.
In the year 1906, Maks Sever, a Slovenian merchant, who already at that time had a leading business in Europe and later also in America, opened the first seed retail store in Ljubljana. This set the foundations for today’s company which has grown into the largest Slovenian seed company over the years. The company began its journey with the tradition of employing excellent co-workers and dedication to quality.
1911: The company is renamed Sever and Co. and extends its business into Zagreb, Belgrade and Trieste.
Today, when we look back at the outstandingly rapid development of the company in the 1920s and 1930s, we can be proud of its breakthrough and success. The company successfully expanded its business into the production and wholesale of seeds.
The covers of commercial catalogues in 1933 and 1940
The commercial seed catalogues from some decades before the Second World War show the superior professionalism of the company which already at that time employed highly-trained experts in their fields. In many ways, the business approach of that time can serve as our model even today.
1918: Sever & Co. partnership.
1919: Establishment of a branch office in Trieste.
1925: Relocation of the registered office to Gosposvetska cesta 5 and construction of a storehouse at Gosposvetska cesta.
1934: Establishment of a branch office in Belgrade.
1935: Opening of a storehouse and seed cleaning facility in Zemun near Belgrade and purchase of an estate in Selo pri Radohovi vasi.
1945: Nationalisation of the company.
1946: Semenarna za Slovenijo (Semenarna for Slovenia) with independent seed production facilities.
After the Second World War, the company was nationalised. At first, the seriously depleted activities continued in Slovenia under the name Semenarna za Slovenijo. The company had its headquarters at Gosposvetska cesta 5, where its biggest store with almost 200 m2 was also located. The principal offer of the store were seeds from the company's own production as well as article merchandise, small animals and food for such animals, and certain agrotechnical equipment.
Seed bags for sowing one garden bed and a bag with bird food
1952: Establishment of the Laboratory for Seeds Quality Control in Ljubljana.
Since its establishment, the laboratory has been carrying out seed quality control under the methods or procedures laid down for each individual plant species by the International Seed Testing Association - ISTA (moisture, seed purity, germination, absolute mass, cold test, tetrazol test).
1958: Loss of the Selo and Starše seed-production facilities.
1960: Establishment of the potato selection station in Kranj.
1963: Merger of the Kmetijsko posestvo Radlje ob Dravi.
1964: Merger of Semenarna, Semenarna Maribor, Semenarna Celje, Semenogojski obrat Radlje ob Dravi and Semenski kombinat Semenarna Ljubljana, and the renaming into the company Semenarna Ljubljana.
After the merger, the company strenghtened its activities in the production, development and marketing fields. The company is opening representation offices in all capitals and some other cities of the former Yugoslav republics and expanding the organised production of seeds for its own needs and for exportation.
1968: Semenarna establishes the Ptuj Selection Station.
Development and control activities been performed in Ptuj and Ljubljana since 1968 involving the production, breeding and packing of seeds. Semenarna produced high-quality basic seeds through maintained selection which were reproduced by certified producers across Yugoslavia, at the same time breeding new varieties and introducing foreign varieties that were recognised worldwide.
1980: Construction of the storage and processing facility in Celje.
1986: Construction of the Production Supply Centre in Ljubljana and the new company image.
The modern production-supply centre at Rudnik in Ljubljana included production storage premises and a retail stall. In 1994 it was transformed into the first garden centre Kalia which occupied about 2000 m2.
In the following years, storehouses and business premises were constructed in Celje and at all representative offices of Semenarna Ljubljana throughout the former Yugoslavia.
1989: Construction of the Ptuj Selection Centre.
Relocation into larger premises and in particular, purchase of land near the village Markovci pri Ptuju giving a fresh impetus to the production of seeds.
1989–1991: Transformation into a public limited company and establishment of subsidiary companies and representations abroad.
Before the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Semenarna Ljubljana had over 100 retail stores. They were spread around the entire country and operated within 10 independent business units, together with the wholesale and personnel services. Managers of the independent business units held colleges every month in Ljubljana where they reported on sales. The number of retail-trade units was highest in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, and lower in Croatia and Macedonia.
In the year 1989, the Serbian market was blocked, followed by the reorganisation of market units into subsidiary companies. In Slovenia, the combine was reorganised into the uniform company Semenarna Ljubljana.
1991–1992: Loss of the traditional market and loss of verified areas for seed production.
After Slovenia's independence, Semenarna Ljubljana faced the loss of the Yugoslavian market and thus also seed production possibilities in traditionally proven areas. This was followed by denationalisation and the loss of a part of its assets in the republics of the former Yugoslavia, representing the most crucial and difficult period for the company. However, the company's management was oriented towards Europe realising that in order to survive, a new concept would be necessary to operate within a smaller area, which would provide for the expansion of the sales programme, in particular in the direction of arranging the living environment.
Our employees' firm belief in the company's success, as well as the trust of our business partners and customers helped it overcome the most difficult years. With the development of our own trademarks, introduction of new activities and representations, development of the garden centre network, and especially trust-worthy products, we maintained our position on the home market and successfully export our products despite the fierce competition.
1993: Establishment of the development department for biotechnology and opening of a representative office in Prague.
1994: Relocation of the company's management to Dolenjska cesta 242.
The company's headquarters which until 1994 was at Gosposvetska cesta 5 was relocated. The first Kalia garden centre was opened near the new headquarters of Semenarna Ljubljana at Dolenjska c. 242.
Semenarna Ljubljana, Dolenjska cesta 242, and the first garden center Kalia in Ljubljana
1995: Semenarna Ljubljana becomes a joint stock company and establishes the Agrigenetics Breeding Centre in Osijek.
The denationalisation and ownership transformation processes were followed by the company's transformation into the Semenarna Ljubljana, d. d. into a joint stock company. The process was conducted in accordance with Slovene legislation.
1996: Opening of the second Kalia garden centre in BTC in Ljubljana.
1999: Opening of the third Kalia garden centre in Maribor and concentration of seed processing in Celje.
2000: Opening of the fourth Kalia garden centre in Murska Sobota and capital increase of the company by foreign partners.
2001: Opening of the fifth Kalia garden centre Kalia in Celje and registration of the Kalia service trademark.
2002: Establishment of the subsidiary companies Semenarna Kosovë Priština and Semenarna BH Sarajevo.
2003: Purchase of KŽK Kranj.
2004: Establishment of the subsidiary company SK Semenarna Beograd.
2005: Establishment of the company Semenarna Hungaria, take-over of Zadružna kmetijska družba and full accreditation of the Laboratory for Seeds Quality Control at the International Seed Testing Association – ISTA.
2006: Opening of the largest garden center Kalia in Kranj.
2007: Opening of the Kalia garden centre in Novo mesto and Trusted brand 2007 award for Kalia.
2007-2012: Semenarna Ljubljana is majority owned by an Italian owner.
2008: Superbrands 2008 Award for Semenarna Ljubljana, construction of a new production facility and relocation of production to Celje, closure of the storehouse in Maribor and centralisation of logistics in Ljubljana.
2009: Opening of the Rodovita agro-distribution centre in Lendava and the Kalia garden centre in Zagreb, Superbrands Slovenia 2009 award for Kalia.
2010: Closure of the company Semenarna Hungaria and opening of the first franchise Merkur Rodovita in Lendava.
2013: In October, the Kalia store in Brežice closed.
2013: Even before the end of the year Semenarna Ljubljana is one hundred percent owned by Deželna banka Slovenije.
2014: Opened a franchise store Kalia in Krško in September.
2014: Semenarna Ljubljana closes its last subsidiary abroad.
2015: Opened new Kalia franchises in Logatec, Koper and Dol pri Hrastniku.
2015: Semenarna Ljubljana d.d. is transformed from a joint-stock company to a limited liability company, Semenarna Ljubljana, d.o.o.
2017: The beginning of the transformation of Kalia garden centers.
2018: We continue the renovation of the Kalia garden centers.
2018: New address of the company's headquarter. In October, the administration, together with the commercial and other support services, moved to a new location: Kolodvorska ulica 9. At the old location, Dolenjska cesta 242, the warehouse and garden center Kalia remained.