The Bulgarian subsidiary of German locking system manufacturer WITTE Automotive will double the output of its plant in Ruse in a year and a half. By then, it will finish the construction of a new plant in the city, which will add 23,000 sq. m of built-up area to its existing production facilities. The expansion will allow the company to increase its sales to 400 million euro a year from some 200 million euro at present.
The main reasons why the German owner has chosen the city on the Danube for the project valued at 25 million euro, are the good operating results and the quality of the output. That is why the plant in Ruse has been named key supplier by automotive giants like Mercedes and BMW.
The company recently signed an agreement to buy 2,000 sq. m of municipal land to develop its project. The plot is located next to WITTE Automotive Bulgaria's existing site, which will allow the company to unite its properties and facilitate its operations. On the plot, the company will build a new plant - its third, as well as logistic facilities and parking lots.
After working in rented premises for several years, WITTE Automotive Bulgaria built its first own plant in Ruse in 2014 and five years later it opened a second one. Therefore, the current project is called Second Expansion. What is more, that will not be the last such project, as the company plans to build a fourth production facility at a later stage.
Growing with the largest
The construction of WITTE Automotive's third factory in Ruse is expected to begin in June 2023 and the plant will open in the middle of 2024. The company will finance the project with its own funds. The expansion will create 302 new jobs that will bring the total number of employees to 1,500.
Thanks to its constant growth, the company is now the largest employer in the region of Ruse and the third largest company in terms of turnover, according to the KAPI database. After sales dropped slightly in the pandemic year 2020, they surged by more than 40% to 274 million levs (137 million euro) in 2021. The company expects a turnover of 183 million euro for 2022, which will represent a 30% increase year-on-year.
About a third of the output is exported to Germany. Other big markets include Poland, Hungary, Sweden, China and the United States. WITTE Automotive's customers are automotive giants like Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen, Audi, Volvo, BMW and others.
The additional production space will allow the company to double its assembling capacity; the output will include high-tech products like locking mechanisms and camera modules. The company will be also able to double its capacity for WITOL, a patented product for tolerance compensation. According to 2021 data, WITOL systems account for almost a quarter of the company's sales.
More high-tech electronic products will also be manufactured in Ruse, WITTE Automotive told the Capital Weekly. Many of the components are used in electric vehicles and their share will continue to increase.
The slight decrease in the company's sales in 2020 has been overcome already, despite last year's crises.
"The shocks of 2020, when COVID-19 disrupted the global economy and the supply of electronic components, and the rise in energy costs caused by the war in Ukraine in 2022 affected the automotive market but not drastically," WITTE Automotive Bulgaria's manager Hristo Hristov told the Capital Weekly. "Though the industry has not yet reached its levels of 2018 and 2019, the trend is positive."