BIP Brewery

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Beogradska industrija piva (abbr. BIP; full legal name: Beogradska industrija piva, slada i bezalkoholnih pića a.d. Beograd) is a Serbian brewery, which declared bankruptcy in September 2015. It has a headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia. In addition to a range of beers, the brewery produces soft drinks, vinegar, and yeast.


19th century

The brewery was founded in 1839, although it operates under current name Beogradska industrija Piva since January 1963. BIP's 1839 predecessor was founded by the Czech miller expert Johan Weinhappl from Sremska Mitrovica. It was a manufacture for cooking of the "barley juice". At the time, the brewery was not on its present location. The brewery was moved to the neighborhood of Mostar, part of Senjak, in 1873, under the name of "Đorđe Vajfert's First Serbian Steam Brewery". The entire brewery complex was completed in 1880. After it was finished, the entire structure changed the urban physiognomy of this part of Belgrade. The brewery itself was designed by the foreign architects.Owner of the factory was industrialist Đorđe Vajfert. He studied beer brewing at College of Agriculture and Brewing near Munich, Bavaria. In 1892-1893, within the complex, Vajfert built a mansion which became known as Vajfert's Villa. The one-storey edifice was designed by engineer Jovan K. Ristić, in the Romanticist style. It became known for its interior, richly decorated woodworks, including the central wooden staircase. Close to the villa is the vast network of lagums, or underground corridors. The so-called Vajfert's storage cellars, the 70 m (230 ft) long and 32 m (105 ft) wide subterranean rooms were divided in 14 sections where beer was stocked in barrels and tanks. The villa became one of the most distinguished venue in Belgrade hosting numerous balls and receptions.

20th century

Becoming one of the greatest industrialists in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Vajfert owned the brewery until his death in 1937. It was then inherited by his nephew Fernand Gamberg. The factory was damaged in both World Wars. After the Communist takeover in 1945, it was nationalized and repaired as the "7th of July" factory. On 23 January 1963, it merged into the Belgrade Beer Industry (BIP), together with the "Brewery Belgrade" (former "Bajloni Brewery" in Skadarlija) and "Bezalko" company. The brewery was modernized and expanded, while the only surviving part of the original complex was Vajfert's Villa.The malting section became operational in 1965 and was the only brewery in Serbia which produced malt. "Golden age" of the brewery were the 1970s. By the mid of the decade, the factory was brewing 1.5 million hectoliters per year, covering over one quarter of the market in the entire Yugoslavia. It was invested into the most modern equipment, including the Siemens control board which at that time only existed in NASA. After the collapse of the federal state in the early 1990s, the situation in the company worsened. It was especially hit after the major fire in the factory in 1997.

21st century

Public bidding for the sale of the company in 2004 failed. In another attempt, in July 2007, the factory was sold to the Swedish-Lithuanian consortium. The consortium consisted of "United Nordic Beverages AB" and Alita for €26.5 million, for the 52% of the factory. In February 2010, the privatization was terminated, due to non-fulfillment of investment obligations. They clauses included not investing the additional €5.1 million, not buying off the rest of the shares and not paying the taxes. The consortium also administered the properties contrary to the contract: they sold the offshoot factories in the neighborhood of Krnjača and the town of Čačak and even pawned the company's brand for a credit of €1.1 million, without consulting the administrative board. In October 2012, Privatization Agency of Serbia announced that it had won the case against the former owners, meaning they will have to pay €17 million in the name of compensation.The malting section was repaired and became operational again. In 2014, the products of the factory were beer (80%), kvass (10%(, soft drinks (5%) and vinegar (5%). Still, the brewery entered the bankruptcy proceedings in September 2015, and officially went bankrupt in the early 2016.In April 2017, Macedonian investor leased brewery for the annual price of €900,000. Svetozar Janevski, owner of the "M6 EDEN SRB" company which leased the factory, and who also owns the Tikveš vinery and the Skopsko beer brewery (both in North Macedonia), announced that the old brewery will be operational for the next 2–3 years, until the new brewery is built on another location. He announced negotiations with the government to reach an agreement on the new location. New investor claimed that he is not interested in just taking the highly valuable land on an excellent location, but that he wanted to revitalize the beer production. However, in the early 2019 city announced new urban regulatory plan for the area where the brewery is, envisioning the conversion of the land from "economic" to "commercial". On 1 July 2019, Janevski broke the lease, claiming the "concept" of BIP has no future. In 2017, the brewery had a total loss of 51,5 million dinars (€435,000). Ministry of Economy stated that the brewery will not be shut down, instead, the state made a public offer for a new lease. The process failed as no one made an offer by 15 July 2019, but the production continued under the bankruptcy manager.By this time part of the complex dilapidated and went out of use, reducing the factory's capacity. The lagums haven't been inspected for a long time while the terrain of the complex is prone to the mass wasting. In 2009 the partial supporting wall was built to prevent the soil from moving while the unbuilt part of the complex became covered in overgrowth. In November 2019 city published the detailed regulatory plan for the area, work of urbanists Radmila Grubišić and Milica Andrejić. It anticipates the complete demolition of the entire complex and construction of the commercial neighborhood with hotels, business offices and malls. The only surviving part of the former complex will again be the Vajfert's Villa, which was placed under the preliminary protection. A minimal beer production in some of the new objects may be preserved for the touristic purposes.One of the pre-war inheritors, the Veljković family, threatened to sue the state because the factory is not returned to them in the process of restitution. In February 2020, director of the Restitution Agency, Strahinja Sekulić, said that they decided not to return the factory as the natural restitution, but instead to financially compensate the shareholders (including the Veljkovićs), as the brewery was the joint-stock company when nationalized.On 14 March 2020, the leakage of ammonia was reported from the brewery. White ammonia smoke covered the area, and 18 people were hospitalized.
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