Two years after Japan's Hitachi acquired ABB's Power Grids division, thus becoming an owner of its Bulgarian subsidiary, the new company, Hitachi Energy Bulgaria, has expanded its plant for high-voltage products in the town of Sevlievo. The company's 2021 financial report shows that so far it has injected some 20 million levs (10 million euro) in the plant and employees have increased by more than 180. That will mean more business for local suppliers too. The trend to electrification and decarbonization in Europe will ensure the company's continued growth. This year alone turnover is expected to surge by 20%.
One more plant
Hitachi Energy Bulgaria has added 6,200 sq. m. of production space on its site in Sevlievo. The project started in January 2021 and finished earlier this year. According to plant manager Andrea Brognara, the Bulgarian facility is a strategic division for the Japanese conglomerate and it will continue to invest in the plant. He did not disclose the overall value of the project.
The company's report however shows that in 2021 it invested 15.5 million levs and a further 5.7 million levs has been projected for this year. In February 2022 Hitachi Energy Bulgaria increased its capital by 19.6 million levs.
Brognara said that the new facility manufacturers high-voltage components, which are delivered internally to Hitachi Energy's factories.
The transformation of the plant in Sevlievo (formerly state-owned Avangard) into a strategic unit for the high-voltage business - first of ABB and now of Hitachi Energy - practically started in 2011. At that time a key investment project was carried out, which allowed ABB to transfer the production of special high-voltage components to Sevlievo, Hitachi Energy Bulgaria manager Stefan Minchev explained.
The latest expansion of production capacity has resulted in an increase in the number of employees to more than 800. The facility in Sevlievo alone provides jobs to more than 700 people, including 20% white-collar employees. The rest are occupied in the company's engineering center and R&D unit in Sofia.
According to Minchev, the plant will have an effect on indirect employment too, as the company aims to use as many local suppliers as possible in order to avoid supply chain disruptions.
With constant investment in production, the company has also boosted its financial performance. In 2021 it posted a 42-percent increase in turnover to 154.2 million levs and a profit of 3.1 million levs. Sales this year are projected to jump 20%, reaching 184.6 million levs.
The plant in Sevlievo was established as a state-owned manufacturing facility in 1962 and was acquired by ABB in 1996. It produces equipment for power grids and high-voltage systems, all types of transformers, equipment systems and energy automation software. As part of the group's Power Grids business, the plant in Sevlievo was sold to Japan's Hitachi in July 2020. The deal was carried out in stages, with ABB initially retaining a 19.9-percent equity stake with the option to exit the shareholding three years after closing. At the end of September 2022 ABB announced it had reached an agreement to divest the remaining stake to Hitachi.