Plamen Bobokov: Ruse is not only in my heart but in all of my future projects as well


„Prista Oil“ has become a symbol of successful business in Bulgaria but even more strongly on an international scale. To how many countries does your business extend already and what results do you anticipate for the new year?

I think that 2016 historically will be the best year for Prista Oil. I reasonably expect more than excellent results since we have signed a series of big contracts the execution of which will start any moment. So to say, I do not expect doubling but tripling of the results. But let’s not be quick to talk in advance; we will wait until the forecasts become reality; experience from the past few years has taught me to be more careful. As regards the geography of the business, right now along with our production plants in Bulgaria we also have production generated from our plants abroad. Except for the Bulgarian and the Romanian market which are main markets for us, Prista is exclusively oriented towards non-EU countries – we already deliver to more than 40 countries across 4 continents.                             

Since summer 2015 the first private hall in South East Europe - Bulstrad Arena has been a fact. A first-of-its kind project that you and your brother Atanas developed and completed in public private partnership with Ruse Municipality. What are its positive effects for the city of Ruse?

As I’ve said several times, Bulstrad Arena is destined to bring back the glory and greatness of our city. It is part of our project for the revival of Ruse, an important prerequisite for having the city “crowned back” as a cultural center in Bulgaria all the while occupying a worthy place in South East Europe as a center for cultural, sporting, public, business and congress events. Drawing international attention and tourists, and thus provoking the economic upsurge of our city.  I would like to mention again that our commitments towards the hall do not end up with its building and opening but will continue with major costs on its maintenance.

What ambitions do you have for the future of the hall?                                                              

Our greatest ambition is that Bulstrad Arena Hall becomes a kind of institute with interesting business and cultural processes consolidating and developing around it as well as an attraction center for the Danube region, and I include here not only the Bulgarian but also the Romanian part of the region. A place where all sorts of world, European, national, regional and local events may take place. In fact, the hall is only the beginning and it lies at the heart of everything we are about to create. We are already working towards building on it with additional projects which will make the hall even more attractive for sporting, cultural and congress events. Our next secure investment is a hotel in close proximity the construction of which we hope to be able to start in May. It will add to its 100% functionality. Its construction will allow us to launch the service “sports camp”. The modern hotel setting can accommodate club and national teams for sports training purposes who will be able to use smaller sports halls as well the main Bulstrad Arena Hall. The same applies for guests visiting the cultural events by adding to the ticket price a stay package that would include breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.

The hotel will have a modern and cozy SPA area, a swimming pool and a fitness center. It is planned to build on its territory the first for Ruse functionally equipped modern and ergonomic conference hall with wide opportunities for organized events of different nature and scale – from small business gatherings, press conferences and forums for 250 people to large-scale congress activities for up to 3 000 people. Special attention was given to each detail to ensure that even the most demanding requirements will be covered. There will be a warm connection between the hotel and Bulstrad Arena for customers’ convenience but also for catering services. The kitchen of the hotel will also be designed in such a way that would allow us to provide service to a large number of people, of around 4000 people .                                                                                                                                                                     

We need to think long term because only in two years‘time, in 2018, Bulgaria is to become a leading country in the European Union.  And then Ruse, as the largest Bulgarian city on the Danube River and a central city in the Danube strategy between Bulgaria and Romania, will be hosting a number of international events.

We need to be prepared to welcome this challenge. Because other than beautiful boulevards and lovely parks, Ruse also needs a place for accommodating the numerous guests, a hall where they will be met and granted a European level of service.

In conclusion, I would like to say that me and my brother we are planning to do much more for Ruse in our desire to attract investments from serious businesses in the city, but at this stage I do not wish to comment on it in more details. The truth is that Ruse is not only in our hearts but in all of our future projects as well.

In this connection, what happens with the building of the Old High School of Music in Ruse and your idea to turn it into the First Private Museum in Bulgaria?

The museum will be finished. At the moment we are taking all appropriate steps to make this project a reality.  A project which I dare say managed to preserve this unique cultural object over the years and did not allow that it be demolished and replaced with another “genius project”.  We are applying for an EU program and will have to wait; still, I believe we did everything in our power and as per our standards to build the most modern museum in Bulgaria. With its opening we will complete another commitment of ours that complements the idea of reviving the spirit of Ruse and bringing back its old glory as a Bulgarian capital of culture.

Is it true that you will become a member of the Board of the University of Ruse?    

Yes, it is. Not only my brother Atanas but I will also be part of the Board of the University of Ruse “Angel Kanchev”. It is a great honor for us. This kind invitation was made to me by the new rector Prof. Dr. Velizara Pencheva, the Chairman of Ruse Municipal Council and the former rector of the university CM Prof. Dr. sc. tech. eng. Hristo Beloev.                                                                      

We cannot but accept such a proposal especially when my brother and me we have interesting development plans that concern the University as well.  So, I believe we will manage to put into practice the positive experience we have gained from our public private partnership with the Municipality and the University of Ruse.  Because the university as a leading center for education and good education in general are some of the most powerful weapons for development not only for our city and its business but for the development of the region as a whole.

Apart from the successful business and large-scale projects, the name of Bobokovi family is also associated with a serious charity work. Do you consider this a business duty and what does it bring to you?

Charity work and donations are part of our philosophy for creating a link between the business and the society. For me and my brother it is rather a family value we have been brought up in and a duty of each and every one of us. Therefore, we also strive to educate our children in that direction and our responsibilty as public figures is even more binding. For all those years and today, we haven’t stopped supporting many different initiatives without making it public or seeking a recognition for that matter. We strongly believe that it is through personal example and continuity that we may restore the philanthropic traditions in our country which is also a link to our roots.