Bulgaria's window and door producer Rollplast Group has completed the construction of its 40,000 sq. m. plant in the town of Kostinbrod, near Sofia. The project started in 2008 and was carried out in several stages, with the total investment reaching 110 million levs (55 million euro).
The last, seventh, stage included a new production hall, an office building and 4 megawatts of PV panels to the total amount of 30 million levs. From now on the company plans to grow by automating production, which will bring it some 10% more volume a year, as well as higher quality.
No spaceThe owner of the company, Svetlin Nikolchev, set up Rollplast in 2000. The factory was initially located in Sofia's Zaharna Fabrika district and manufactured external and internal blinds, insect nets and garage doors. As demand for windows began to grow with the renovation of Socialist-time buildings, Nikolchev decided to add a new product line.
"The problem in Zaharna Fabrika was that there was not enough space for the manufacture of large windows, so I had to build a green-field plant," he told the Capital Weekly. Kostinbrod was chosen as a location due to its proximity to the capital city, as Nikolchev wanted to retain his employees.
The big project
With a new company, Rollplast Group, which he registered in 2005, Nikolchev started buying land in Kostinbrod plot by plot. The master plan of the future plant was ready in 2008 and the first stage was completed in 2009.
But the financial crisis upset his plans to finish the entire complex in three or four years. "There were periods when I did not know if the business would survive. Many of my competitors went bust during that time. I was lucky because I did not have a big order book for new construction but was producing windows mainly for renovation projects," he explained.
Though it took longer than initially planned, the plant was successfully completed step by step, using own funds and bank loans. In 2012 all production activities moved from Sofia to Kostinbrod and in 2014 the company opened a shop for wooden windows.
The last expansion
The last stage of the project includes an office building with a canteen, showroom and parking space, as well as a production hall for PVC windows. The total investment amounts to 30 million levs, including 4 megawatts of solar power for own consumption. The company is among the few lucky ones that do not use much electricity - it accounts for less than 1% of costs. But the natural gas price hike was felt - indirectly, through glass. "Last year I bought 10% more glass by volume but I paid 72% more for it," Nikolchev reckons.
The latest investment is not aimed at increasing the production capacity but at installing new and more efficient equipment. "We are now growing at a more moderate pace, by some 10% a year in terms of volume. But we are introducing new machines that are more productive and ensure higher quality," Nikolchev explained.
Capacity and markets
With the completion of the project, the plant now has the capacity to manufacture 2,000 sq. m of windows a day, more than 200 external blinds and 600 internal blinds and insect nets. Today the company is also more active in new construction, which absorbs 15 to 20% of its output.
Some 35% of the output is exported - mainly to the Balkan countries but also to the rest of Europe. Smaller quantities are delivered elsewhere.
The COVID-19 crisis halved the combined sales of the two companies, Rollplast and Rollplast Group, to some 70 million levs in 2020. Turnover increased by 18% in 2021 and by a further 15% in 2022 to 94 million levs.
The number of employees has remained relatively stable for the past few years. In 2022, it averaged 323 people.