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KOŠICE REGION

British Hi-Tech firm eyes Košice

BRITISH Hi-Technology Group (HiTG) is joining the family of foreign investors who have ventured beyond Slovakia's capital city and the surrounding regions, which are already saturated with foreign investments. HiTG will open its subsidiary plant Hi-Technology Mouldings Slovakia in Košice and pour an initial Ł250,000 (€371,450) into the business.

BRITISH Hi-Technology Group (HiTG) is joining the family of foreign investors who have ventured beyond Slovakia's capital city and the surrounding regions, which are already saturated with foreign investments. HiTG will open its subsidiary plant Hi-Technology Mouldings Slovakia in Košice and pour an initial Ł250,000 (€371,450) into the business.

After six months, the investment should double, said Juraj Augustín, the general manager and executive director of the Economic Development Centre (EDC) of U.S. Steel Košice. The EDC plays an important part in attracting foreign investments to the region.

The plant will be the first non-UK subsidiary of the Waterlooville-based HiTG and should open at the beginning of July. The investor is not just moving part of its production from Britain to Slovakia, but will produce a completely new assortment of products, the Košice Region website wrote.

"We are not yet producing in Britain what we plan to produce in Slovakia," Richard Brown, HiTG's operations director, told the website, adding that once the performance of the Slovak subsidiary is effective and the employees have the necessary skills, HiTG will consider moving research and development to Slovakia as well.

The company has chosen Košice for its economic stability, geographical location and the presence of Košice's Technical University, says the Košice Region's website.

"Thanks to this investment, the city of Košice will find its place on the maps of HiTG demanding customers," Augustín told The Slovak Spectator, adding that the customers are mostly the purchasers of special components produced by HiTG for the maritime and aircraft industry, the defence industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the healthcare sector.

HiTG has an annual turnover of Ł10.5 million (€15.6 million) and has customers in Europe, the US, China, Japan and Malaysia, according to the EDC.

The Slovak branch aspires to reach a turnover up to Ł5 million (€7.43 million) and create 50 production and technical jobs, Brown told the Košice Region website, adding that in the future the company could potentially employ up to 150 people, if business goes well.

"We want to employ people - from workers, production operators, technicians and qualified employees to general managers, and we will try to recruit all the employees from this region," Richard Brown said, according to the Košice Region's website.

However, HR specialists said that finding qualified labour in the Košice Region could be problematic since people often seek jobs in other regions of Slovakia or abroad.

According to Augustín, the EDC sees the solution in raising interest in technical fields of study among students through cooperation with investors in the Košice Region, schools and regional authorities. The ability to educate a new qualified workforce will increase along with the return of qualified people from abroad, Augustín said. There are already many foreign companies led by young ambitious Slovak managers who have returned to Košice from western Slovakia and abroad.

"We are quite frank when we explain the present situation of workforce migration to the investors," Augustín told The Slovak Spectator, mentioning the divided families whose fathers travel westwards for work. This workforce is at the disposal of the Košice Region, they only need to be offered comparable working conditions to stay at home, Augustín said.

"We hope that the arrival of this British investor will attract further investments, so that young people will not have to leave," said Ondrej Bernát, deputy director of the Košice Region government. He believes that after some time, Košice will house not only HiTG's production, but also its laboratories where the sophisticated forms that have made the company famous worldwide will be designed.

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