AFTER inexpensive products from Asia brought down the textile industry in eastern Slovakia several years ago, it seems that the situation has been improving. But instead of clothes, local sewers will make car seat covers. Two foreign companies have announced investments in Stará Ľubovňa and the creation of about 250 jobs, the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily wrote.

This year, Trim Leader, from the portfolio of US Johnson Controls, plans to recruit 150 people, and the Spanish firm Jobelsa, which already has a plant in Košice, will provide 100 new jobs. Jobelsa has moved one of its orders to local entrepreneur Ján Bernát, whose company made seat covers until 2012. The new order means five years of work. The amount of the investments was not specified.

“We had a lot of orders. Because of this, we decided to move a portion of them to Stará Ľubovňa,” Leonard Labanič, the financial director of Jobelsa, told the daily. The company sews interiors for Mercedes-Benz, among others.

Both companies have already started recruiting and have hired about 60 people so far. Neither have applied for state assistance.

Stará Ľubovňa, in Prešov Region, is pleased with the return of the textile industry. In June, Prešov Region had the highest unemployment rate out of all eight regions of Slovakia, at 17.98 percent.

“We are glad that we have managed to win them,” Stará Ľubovňa Mayor Michal Biganič told the daily. “They will continue in the textile tradition.”

According to Peter Paška, the head of the recruitment agency Proact People, Trim Leader has moved a portion of its production to Stará Ľubovňa because of the amount of qualified labour. The company sews leather as well as textile seat covers for Toyota, Fiat and Kia. It operates in 150 countries and in Slovakia it has a large plant in Košťany nad Turcom, close to Martin.

Stará Ľubovňa is not the only town in Prešov Region winning new investors. The Spanish metallurgical company Funderia Condals plans to build a €20 million foundry in Petrovany near Prešov and employ about 450 people. Chinese firm Flameshoes plans to invest €14 million and open a plant for manufacturing Crocs in Bardejov.

However, Košice Region has been more successful in attracting IT companies or firms eager to open shared services centres. Companies already present there include T-Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Ness. Michal Páleník from the Employment Institute sees the willingness of eastern Slovaks to move back to Košice from Bratislava as the reason behind these companies’ successful branch launches in the eastern metropolis.