Company LEONI is among Serbia’s largest exporters, but is also the largest employer in the country’s industrial sector, with approximately 13,200 employees at four factories. These facts provide plenty of reason for pride, but also carry great responsibility
More than 50% of the value of our product comprises newly created value. We export 100% of our production and our exports are twice as large as our imports, so we provide our country with a clean foreign exchange inflow – note LEONI representatives with pride.
According to the Ministry of Finance’s “Current macroeconomic development” presentation, LEONI Serbia ranks among the country’s top five exporters. What has contributed to such a good result?
— We are proud that we are at the top of the list of the largest Serbian exporters. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Finance, over seven months we exported goods worth 292 million euros, which is an increase of as much as 33% compared to the same period of last year.
We handle with seriousness and responsibility the orders of our customers, and they are manufacturers of premium class motor vehicles, and it is this has resulted in good business results. The automotive industry is recovering after the global crisis caused by the covid pandemic and we are happy that we are part of that recovery; that we are able to satisfy the demands of our renowned customers while simultaneously securing the earnings of our employees and contributing to the development of our country.
Apart from exports, how else does LEONI contribute to the progress of the Serbian economy and society?
— Our factories are located in Prokuplje, in Malošište in the municipality of Doljevac, in Niš and in Kraljevo. These were all areas with excessive unemployment figures. By hiring more than 13,000 people, LEONI has contributed significantly to reducing unemployment levels in these places. As such, of the total number of workers in Prokuplje, as many as 26% work at LEONI, while in Kraljevo we represent a 15% share of total employment. We have thereby raised living standards not only for our employees and their families, but rather also for the entire community in which they live.
Leoni working intensively to attract new projects that have the potential to safeguard production until 2035
On the basis of taxes and contributions, LEONI provides more than 48 million euros to the state budget annually. We cooperate with more than 700 local suppliers and enable them to generate an annual turnover of approximately 41 million euros. In this way, LEONI isn’t only a major exporter, but also one of the drivers of the Serbian economy as a whole.
How is LEONI as an employer?
— It goes without saying that the LEONI fulfils all of its legal obligations, such as regularly paying wages, paid overtime and nightshift work, taxes and contributions on the full salary amount, a working environment without harmful influences on health etc. But we also provide more than that; caring for employees is our key value: LEONI Serbia engages as many as 92 buses per day for organised transportation, which are used by more than 10,000 employees.
We have clinics staffed with doctors at all four locations, so employees don’t need to waste time going to their regular clinic. Then, on the basis of contracts with the company, a large number of retailers provide our employees with benefits. Apart from gifts for New Year and 8th March [International Women’s Day], this year we also provided valuable gifts to 500 first year school pupils whose parents work at LEONI. Apart from being the largest employer, we also strive to be among the best employers.
Is there anything hampering LEONI’s operations in Serbia?
— It is essential to reduce costs in order to generate greater profitability. LEONI pays a high price for high absenteeism in Serbia – in terms of employee absences due to sick leave. Of all the countries where LEONI is present and in the region, the highest rate of sick leave is in Serbia, and is twice as high as it is in the next country. Moreover, the period during which sick leave costs are the on the employer’s account is the longest in Serbia – 30 days, while the practice in most countries is for sick leave costs to be borne by the national health fund after five days. For our common good, we expect our state to intervene urgently and to tailor legislation to satisfy the needs of the economy.
This summer saw LEONI AG change its ownership structure and implement financial restructuring. How will this impact the operations of LEONI Serbia?
— I expect the impact to be very positive. Refinancing is underway, and – as announced by our management – to follow in the operational area will be a focus on the needs of customers, the development of technologies and products, and increased efficiency. With its four factories, LEONI Serbia is ready to provide a full contribution to LEONI AG scaling new heights.
What are LEONI Serbia’s plans for the decade ahead?
— Our four factories have been rounded off as elements – in terms of infrastructure and equipment – and as such our next task is to increase productivity and quality. And ensuring the company’s continuity in Serbia. We are working intensively to attract new projects that have the potential to safeguard production until 2035. LEONI is a company that’s known as a pioneer in optimising the development of wiring systems, production and supply chains. Researchers, engineers and manufacturing experts at LEONI designed innovative zonal architecture and we, at LEONI Serbia, will be absolutely ready to realise that innovation when it becomes broadly applied. We know that we will have the strong support of the headquarters of our LEONI Group and our LEONI family in everything we do. The recent restructuring brings new strength to the LEONI Group and we are continuing along the road of success together.