Tableware worthy of the Vatican

[b]Dobrush Porcelain Factory among brightest calling cards of industrial Belarus[/b] The city of Dobrush, in Gomel region, is situated beside the picturesque River Iput. Surrounded by streams, it is commonly known as a ‘Belarusian Venice’ and was first mentioned in 1560, connected with a romantic legend. It was said that, in Pagan times, when people worshipped the Sun, they gathered at a wonderful oak grove, situated on the cape of a small river. They were pondering whether to stay for a while or move on when an old man looked at the oaks and said, “Dobrosh.” He stretched his hands towards the river and pronounced, “Iput.” Ever since, the place they chose to live has been called Dobrush while the river providing them with food and acting as a road has been known as the Iput.
Dobrush Porcelain Factory among brightest calling cards of industrial Belarus

The city of Dobrush, in Gomel region, is situated beside the picturesque River Iput. Surrounded by streams, it is commonly known as a ‘Belarusian Venice’ and was first mentioned in 1560, connected with a romantic legend. It was said that, in Pagan times, when people worshipped the Sun, they gathered at a wonderful oak grove, situated on the cape of a small river. They were pondering whether to stay for a while or move on when an old man looked at the oaks and said, “Dobrosh.” He stretched his hands towards the river and pronounced, “Iput.” Ever since, the place they chose to live has been called Dobrush while the river providing them with food and acting as a road has been known as the Iput.
Today, the city in the south-east of Belarus is very modern, situated within Gomel’s Polesie, bordering Russia and Ukraine. It is home to about 19,000 residents, who are majorly employed by its paper, light, food and construction materials industries, alongside its porcelain-producing plant (established three decades ago).

Everything begins here
In 1975, the decision was made to set up production of porcelain tableware in the city. For provincial Dobrush, this became a significant event and a real prospect for the district centre’s development, since urban life is driven by new production facilities. The factory produced its first manufactures three years later and lived through the drastic changes of the early 1990s, shifting its ownership. In January 1997, it became a joint stock company, known as Dobrush Porcelain Factory, as it is today.
The factory sources its raw materials primarily from Russia and Ukraine, with about 20 percent of auxiliary materials produced in Belarus. The factory now offers over 300 products, each with a unique design solution, and its staff still paint by hand, using cobalt – a skill lost to many masters.

New paths
The factory has taken various decisions to help it survive the 21st century, having weathered the economic and financial crisis largely owing to its renovation and re-equipment. In 2007, the factory was technically modernised, with a high-speed, energy-saving furnace for second stage firing installed. As a result, fuel expenses have fallen by almost 30 percent while quality has improved. Moreover, there’s less waste, demonstrating that the plant is developing well. Significant savings have enabled it to set moderate prices for its manufactures.
Many producers are facing hard times, since the crisis of 2009 has ‘crushed’ several major Russian and Ukrainian plants. Of course, the Dobrush factory is also experiencing tough times in this post-crisis period but continues its modernisation (begun in 2007, with state support). It has already installed a new furnace for first stage firing (capacity of up to 25,000 tonnes at up to 960 degrees Celsius). Another furnace is also ready for installation.
By the end of the year, the factory will have completed its second stage of technical modernisation, investing about $3.5m. Its moulding line and three steam boilers are to be modernised, while frequency regulators are to be installed on electric engines of enhanced capacity. “These novelties will enable us to increase output, reduce energy consumption (for porcelain firing) and increase exports to 55-60 percent of our total volume of output,” stresses General Director Oleg Parfenyuk. “Exports enable us to cover the factory’s foreign currency requirements, while bringing money into the country.”

Meeting client’s interests
The company has been focusing on producing a wide range of affordable porcelain tableware, aimed at those with a moderate income, although it also manufactures cheaper tableware and elite premium-class dinner sets. Its masters can create highly artistic forms and designs, worthy of praise, and around a quarter of the range is updated annually.
Being good value for money, Dobrush’s porcelain is well known throughout the Baltic States, the CIS, Turkey, Germany, Poland, France, Belgium, Israel, Finland, Lebanon and Switzerland. “Compared to other manufacturers, we offer better quality and prices,” notes Mr. Parfenyuk.
The factory is working hard to win customers, implementing a new sales system, with much attention paid to packing methods, shipping, and customs and legal matters, to ensure good service. We face tough competition, so must offer an attractive deal.

Last stroke
Last year, the factory developed a new, premium-class table set entitled ‘Nadezhda’, which occupies a worthy place within its range. Among the factory’s customers is the Vatican, with Dobrush masters making a hand-painted table set of almost 70 items for Pope Benedict XVI.

By Violetta Dralyuk
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