Leoni to become biggest employer in Serbia's industrial sector – Cable systems from the south and Kraljevo for BMW and Mercedes
Leoni facility in Nis (Photo: Ivana Bezarević)
Germany's Leoni will be employing over 10,000 people in Serbia in 2020, which will make it the biggest employer in the industrial sector in the country. The new factory in Kraljevo will be the biggest contributor in this respect, and its completion, which should take under two years, will make Serbia the only European country within the Wiring System Division with four production units.
The global producer of solutions for the transfer of energy and data in the auto-industry and other industries has big plans for Serbia, as confirmed by the semi-annual meeting of managing directors, held for outside Germany for the first time in 10 years, in Nis in late September.
The company has decided to invest and develop its business activities in Serbia thanks to its goods results so far, the availability of workforce, a remarkable work ethic and the level of expertise of people in Serbia, as well as the flexibility and the openness of Serbia, it was said at the press conference organized on this occasion in the city on the Nisava.
– We are very satisfied with our operations here in the three factories in Prokuplje, Malosiste and Nis and we want to present Serbia to our management. This fourth factory will create several thousand jobs more, which further motivates us to believe in the future in your country – said Martin Stuttem, member of the Board of Directors, in charge of the Wiring Systems Division.
When asked by our portal when and under which circumstances we could expect a fifth facility, Stuttem says that this decision depends on the orders and the situation in the market.
– It is still too early to talk about that. We are focused on the Kraljevo plant and reaching the planned number of employees, and we will be making other decisions when the time comes.
Order to installation in under 5 days
The directors' meeting in Nis was also the occasion for us to take a tour of the investor's facility, which opened last year. The production capacities are almost filled, the number of employees is growing – there will be 1,600 by the end of the year and around 2,200 in 2019 – and a new project has arrived from Romania.
Aleksandra Pesic, Deputy Director at Leoni Serbia, explains that this facility produces cables exclusively for BMW, a demanding customer, so perhaps the most difficult part of the job is carried out in Nis.
– The most complex part of the production of wiring systems is located here, in Serbia. Cables are produced exclusively on demand, which makes each wiring system unique. We are talking production which is carried out without supplies and the delivery needs to be made on time. Furthermore, BMW allows its customers to change their order up to 5 days before the delivery, which means that only four and a half days pass from the time we receive the order to the installation of the wiring system we've produced.
Finished products manufactured at Leoni's factories in Serbia are sent to Germany and Great Britain. In 2017, the sales amounted to EUR 150 million. With the new factory in Kraljevo, which will produce components for Mercedes, a half of what's produced will be exported to Hungary as well, according to Clemens Sachs, Director of Leoni Serbia.
Opportunity for local economy
All the components and the secondary raw materials used for finished products in Serbia are imported, mostly from Europe, and the transactions with local suppliers amounted to around EUR 28 million last year.
The construction of the new facility in Kraljevo will therefore be an opportunity for the local economy to get involved, and according to Sachs, the company's presentation will be organized in cooperation with the town authorities in order to meet potential suppliers from the area, which might support the German investor in its everyday operations.
Leoni Group employs over 88,000 people in 31 countries of the world. In Serbia, they have been present since 2009, when the first factory opened in Prokuplje. The factory in Malosiste opened in 2014, and the one in Nis in 2017. All these factories produce wiring systems for world manufacturers of premium cars. At the moment, Leoni employs around 6,000 people in Serbia.
The facilities of the German investor will take up around 110,000 m2 of production area, the new factory in Kraljevo included. With the current area of around 66,000 m2, Serbia is second in the region, after Romania and ahead of Ukraine.
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