Manufacturing firms were dominant as the top foreign investors in Slovenia were honoured Wednesday by SPIRIT Slovenija, the public agency for the promotion of entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment.
Sogefi Filtration, a maker of oil and air filters mostly for the automotive industry, was honoured as the best employer.
Owned by Italian group Sogefi, it employs a workforce of 160 and boasts annual sales of EUR 30m, all of which is exported.
Optotek, an optics and laser specialist owned by Japanese conglomerate Canon, was awarded for its business results and its focus on development.
The company has a staff of 58 and generates sales of EUR 7m. It is among the Slovenian firms with the best credit rating.
The award in the category of long-term presence and focus on sustainability went to Willy Stadler, a company owned by the namesake German group that specialises in making sorting plants for the recycling industry.
The company has had a Slovenian subsidiary since 1997. With revenue of EUR 14m, it boasts value added per employee at just under EUR 50,000.
Schenker, a Deutsche Bahn group company founded in 1989, meanwhile took the honours in the category of logistics hub.
Its credit rating is among the best in the country and value added per employee is at just under EUR 65,000, the award jury said.
The government sent a positive message at the ceremony, with Aleš Cantarutti, state secretary at the Economy Ministry, highlighting that it was keen to attract foreign investments, which includes greenfield and brownfield investments as well as expansion of existing operation.
He said the government would set aside “substantial funds” to promote foreign direct investment, while also encouraging Slovenian companies’ ventures on key markets such as EU, Japan and the US.
Gorazd Mihelič, the head of Spirit agency, meanwhile noted that the annual survey of foreign-owned companies showed the business environment was slowly getting better, though there was still room for improvement, in particular with regard to the issuance of permits, which can be “a nightmare”.
He said Spirit would strive to be more flexible and less bureaucratic, making efforts to improve the quality of its services as the main contact point for foreign investors.
The representatives of the awarded business provided a nuanced message.
Leopold Šmit, the general manager of Sogefi Filtration, urged the government to secure a stable economic and business environment eschewing frequent changes.
At the same time, it needs to put in place “real flexibility” of the labour market and change personal income tax law to reduce the tax wedge.
Willy Stadler, owner and CEO of the namesake parent company, meanwhile said he was “very happy with our decision to come here”, due to the workforce as well as support from the local community.
He said Slovenian employees were highly qualified, very motivated and eager to learn, with the Slovenian installation team the best in the group.
At the same time, the Krško municipality, where the plant is located, offers “excellent support” in the issuance of planning decisions, which “cannot be taken for granted everywhere”.
from The Slovenia Times