International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Spike in US gun sales spells good times for Croatia's largest arms exporter

May 29, 2020

The surge in US gun sales during the coronavirus pandemic set Croatia's largest handgun maker on track to recovery after three years of falling sales and revenue, Vecernji List daily reported on Friday.

Croatia's arms industry exports totalled 493 million kuna (€65 million) last year - 50 percent down from 2018, and more than three times less than in 2016, the best year on record, when Croatia's arms manufacturers had exported nearly 1.7 billion kuna (€224 million) worth of weaponry, Vecernji List daily said, citing a report presented by Economy Minister, Darko Horvat, in a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The daily claims that the report did not break down industry revenues by company or type of product.

But by far the most successful arms company in Croatia is the Karlovac-based HS Produkt, which makes handguns, rifles, and military-grade helmets. Its line of handguns has proven to be especially popular in the US, where it is marketed to law enforcement and civilians by Springfield Armory.

HS Produkt alone usually accounts for about half of the country's entire arms industry exports, illustrated by the fact that in the industry's best-ever year of 2016, HS Produkt sold 575,000 handguns on the American market, which made Croatia the third largest exporter of firearms to the United States that year, behind Austria and Brazil. 

CEO of HS Produkt, Zeljko Pavlin, said that his company's revenues in 2019 have dropped 50 percent year-on-year, to 340 million kuna (€49 million), a far cry from 921 million kuna (€121 million) in 2016.

Vecernji List attributed the falling sales to the election of Donald Trump, saying that arms sales in the US are generally down whenever the country is led by a Republican president.

However, HS Produkt is expecting a very good year in 2020. Although the company refused to speculate on the reasons for the uptick, this is attributed to the unprecedented surge in gun sales amid the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns imposed throughout the US over the last few months.

According to an industry report cited by Fox Business earlier this month, nearly 1.8 million guns were sold in that country in April 2020, a 70 percent increase from April 2019. In March, the surge was even larger, with more than 2.5 million guns sold, or 85 percent up from the same month the year before.

And the surge seems to have a ripple effect this side of the Atlantic, as HS Produkt said they recently hired 50 more people at their plant in Karlovac - its workforce now totalling 1,700 - who now work around the clock to meet the increased demand.

"Fortunately, in 2020 our handgun production has increased so much that by July this year we will probably post better results than for the whole of last year," Pavlin told Vecernji List.

(€1 = 7.58 kuna)

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a437215/Spike-in-US-gun-sales-spells-good-times-for-Croatia-s-largest-arms-exporter.html

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