With four production units in Serbia, LEONI is the walking advertisement for Serbia as a promising investment location. The company is proud of its operations here which are mirrored in excellent export figures, the largest number of employees in the sector, and its devotion to the local communities and their youth.
Foreign investors in Serbia are the best promoters of the business environment and investment conditions. Indeed, that is true for LEONI Wiring Systems Southeast, the only investor in the country with four plants in various Serbian cities. LEONI is also the biggest industrial employer in Serbia which continues to hire new workers, and one of the largest exporters. These two facts alone speak loud enough about LEONI seeing Serbia as a promising investment spot. Yet not all of the experiences of Mr Clemens Sachs, Managing Director of LEONI Wiring Systems Southeast d.o.o., are as positive. LEONI expects to continue expanding the volume of its business operations and employ new people, and this might be a challenge given the migration trends. Furthermore, there are some perquisites that need to be fulfilled if the business is to run smoothly, including public transportation service availability in Kraljevo and partially in Niš. After Prokuplje, Doljevac and Niš, Kraljevo is the fourth town in Serbia in which Leoni is going to open a state-of-the-art factory, which will employ 5,000 workers by the end of 2023.
Are you satisfied with the company’s overall business results in Serbia?
— Me personally and we, as LEONI Serbia, are very proud of and really satisfied with the results we have achieved starting from 2009 until now. As you said, we opened four plants here, and as far as I know, there is no other foreign or domestic company that has four production units in the country. Currently, we are the biggest industrial employer in Serbia and we are continuing to hire new workers, which sounds promising for all those people looking for a stable and secure job. I would proudly like to share with you the information that the Kraljevo plant already has 1,000 workers and it has been only one year since it opened. Also, our export figures and results made us one of the biggest exporters in Serbia, which is also a reason to be proud of. On the other hand, the reason for not being completely satisfied and a bit concerned is the critical labour market in Serbia in terms of migration and fluctuation, which is going to affect our business too.
Clemens Sachs, Managing Director, LEONI Wiring Systems Southeast d.o.o
What is your cooperation with the local government in the places where you have factories in Serbia like and what else can be further improved?
— From the moment we came to Serbia, we have had good cooperation with every local government where launched our business, starting from Prokuplje, Doljevac and Niš and now Kraljevo. The local administration was a true partner in our activities trying to help and expedite things so we could launch and run our business with no obstacles. But there are many things that need to be improved, especially the ones guaranteed from the moment we decided to invest in these communities. For instance, we are facing difficulties related to the public transportation service availability in Kraljevo and partially in Niš and here we expect more support from the local authorities. We have had frequent talks with both local government representatives to find the solution in the common interest.
You employ close to 10.000 workers in Serbia, your domestic supply network consists of over 500 companies, and you have invested over 142 million euro in Serbia so far. Do German investors, who want to launch a business in Serbia, call you for advice and consultation?
— We have been contacted by other German companies that wanted to invest in Serbia many times, and we were happy to share with them our positive experiences of doing business here. As I mentioned earlier, many of them decided to invest just because of our recommendation and we are proud of that too. I think that foreign investors and their experiences should be used in attracting new investments in the country because they are the best promotors of the business environment and investment conditions.
Is there sufficient quality and professional workforce in Serbia that can meet the needs of Leoni?
— The market situation has changed a lot since there are many new companies that came to Serbia and created new jobs. On the other hand, there are a lot of people leaving the country to work abroad and that is another challenge, not only for us but for the state too.
You invest a lot into the local community, the young people and employees. How important is corporate social responsibility and what would you like to highlight in that respect?
— Each company, especially the one of our size, should act responsibly, first toward its employees, then toward the local community in which it operates. Therefore, we pay special attention to our employees, providing different types of training and education for them and investing in their development. So far, we invested over EUR 420,000 in training and development of our employees. Also, as the biggest company in each municipality in which we have our plants (Prokuplje, Doljevac, Niš and Kraljevo), we have the responsibility to support and help the most sustainable projects and the projects with the biggest impact on the local community. Our CSR strategy is to support mostly children and youth, namely to help nurseries, schools, children hospitals and orphanages. In 10 years, we invested over EUR 400,000 in various CSR projects.
Last year, you celebrated a decade of doing business in Serbia. What are the plans for the coming years and what can we expect in terms of further expansion?
— We have entered the second decade of our business in Serbia and we are continuing to grow. We are completing our fourth plant in Kraljevo, which will be the biggest plant both in terms of the size and the number of employees. In regard to our business here, we can expect new projects from our customers which will require the additional workforce.