Article by: Money.bg
Name: Mina Stoycheva
If you recently flew with an airplane from European producer Airbus, is very possible to walk into the doors which they are made from another French producer in the aviation industry – Latecoere. And after a while it is no wonder that these doors are manufactured in Bulgaria as the company opened its pant in the industrial zone near Plovdiv on Wednesday.
The project was announced last year after which the Bulgarian subsidiary Latecoere Bulgaria was founded. Then it became clear that the base will invest 15 million euros by 2020. The first phase of the project which covers an area of 5,000 sq. m., is now ready and in 2019, the second phase will be completed with another 4,000 sq. m. being added.
For the time being the Bulgarian factory will assemble electrical cabinets for Airbus and in time parts for doors. Mostly they will be for the A350 and A380 models. The heads are included after the timepieces and models for the Airbus Military – A400M are attached, which is a military transport aircraft.
The European leader in the aviation industry is Latecoere’s number 1 customer with about 60% of its production coming from the group. The company is also a supplier to competitive Boeing, as well as to Embraer and Dessault Aviation.
What are the plans for Latecoere Bulgaria?
“The second phase of the project should be completed in 2019, as today we have the capacity to produce these aircraft cabinets but we would like to develop other products in Bulgaria. There will also make a door part. The idea is to make the skeletons for them, as well as the mechanism for opening and closing”, explains for Money.bg the director of Latecoere Bulgaria, Olivier Kerwell.
The peculiarity of the cause in Plovdiv is that it deals with assembly.
“We assemble cabinets, with parts coming from other factories in France and the Czech Republic. We want to position ourselves precisely because it is more specific as an activity”, added he.
According to him, before they choose Bulgaria from the group of the French Latecoere, they were considering options for expanding their production closer to France.
“In the beginning, our idea was to choose a Eurozone country. Quite a few countries, of course, have been considered as such in Eastern Europe. Bulgaria quickly appeared in our development plan because it offers many interesting economic advantages for accommodation and proximity at same time”, said Olivier Kerwell, director of Latecoere Bulgaria. He revealed that in our country there were considering two other cities together with Plovdiv.
“We were potentially looking at Sofia, Plovdiv and Ruse as option. The most important thing for us was to be able to expand our production over time. For this reason, Sofia dropped out. There was also another important point in the search – the skilled staff. Of course there is one in Ruse as well, because the industrial zone is well developed there as well. However we found such potential in terms of employees in Plovdiv where there is a branch and at Technical University”, pointed out Kerwell.
A multi – million euros investment and 150 jobs by the end of 2018.
By the end of this year, 150 people will work at Latecoere Bulgaria. Asked how many more people will be hired next year, the director of the Bulgarian unit said:
“We do not want to say that they will reach any final number. Rather we want to focus from phase to phase, expanding our production by 4,000 square meters each time. And let’s hope we have three, four, five stages of development”.
The head of the Bulgarian unit also explained that all employees undergo a long training period, which lasts between six and nine months. Therefore the company does not look for people with specific knowledge and skills, but rather they rely on them to have the potential for this type of work and work well in a team.
Olivier Kerwell also explained that most of the planned investment was directed to the first stage of development of the Plovdiv plant.
“We can say that for the already completed first phase, the investment was about EUR 10 million. As the first part had the biggest financial burden, the second phase will be half what it has invested so far”, he said.
Which group is Latecoere?
The Toulouse- based company has a 100- year history and is one of the leaders in the aviation industry to date. Latecoere is a leader in the supply of electrical cabinets for aircraft and a leading manufacturer of doors and aircraft. In addition to France, the Group has its base in 9 different countries, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Tunisia, Morocco, India, the United States and Brazil. At the end of last year, the company had 4451 employees.
For 2017, the Group’s revenues amount to EUR 652.5 million and operating profit amounts to EUR 11.7 million. The fund of the Latecoere joint-stock company amounts to nearly EUR 190 million.