Sweden's Ewellix has chosen Sofia as the location for its center of European assembly operations. For about a year and a half the manufacturer of linear motion and actuation solutions has transferred more than 10 production lines to Bulgaria and hired 160 people, and plans to grow further.
Line by line
The local subsidiary, Ewellix Bulgaria, was registered in late 2019. Formerly part of SKF, Ewellix decided to start production in Bulgaria as a result of the group's restructuring after its acquisition by investment firm Triton. The aim was to consolidate production and set up a manufacturing center in Europe like those in China and North America. That included the transfer of production lines from Sweden and Switzerland to Sofia and transforming the former factories in the two countries into competence and service centers.
The Bulgarian factory is located on a 11,500 sq. m rented plot in Sofia and the building's reconstruction was carried out in five stages. Production started with one line in July 2020 and has gradually increased with the transfer of more than ten lines until now. The investment amounts to some 3 million levs (1.5 million euro) but that is not the final figure.
"The space we have rented so far is sufficient for our current product range but with the installation of new lines we will expand," managing director Panayot Paskov said.
Besides Bulgaria, Ewellix considered Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania as possible locations for the new factory. In Paskov's words, what weighed in favour of choosing Bulgaria was the opinion of one of Triton's board members, who knew the country and recommended it.
Within Bulgaria, Sofia was preferred for several reasons, though cities like Plovdiv and Stara Zagora were also mulled. In Sofia, Ewellix found a suitable plot and buildings to rent with good public transportation accessibility. An additional argument for the capital city was the availability of more trained workforce. "That really turned out a winning strategy, because we already have 160 employees. If we were elsewhere in the country, we would've hardly been so successful," Paskov said.
The number is envisaged to continue growing and reach some 200 employees this year. All workers have been trained at the factories in Sweden and Switzerland.
Products and services
The factory in Sofia manufactures linear actuators, high performance actuators, telescopic pillars and positioning systems that are used as components in industries like medical, mobile machinery and industrial automation. The products are destined to the European market and some of them are exported to the United States.
The Bulgarian company has an R&D unit of 7 software and machine engineers, who report directly to the head of research in Switzerland. Ewellix Bulgaria also provides shared financial services to the group.
For the time being the company relies on the existing network of suppliers. However, the group is planning to consolidate its network, as well as develop local suppliers.
In Paskov's words, the pandemic has not had an essential effect on the company. For six months of operation in 2020, Ewellix Bulgaria reported sales of some 2 million levs. With the addition of new lines and the expansion in production the results for 2021 will certainly be higher.