The Slovenia Times

Hisense opens R&D centre in Velenje

Investment & Real Estate

Hisense Europe, the Chinese owner of the Slovenian household appliances maker Gorenje, inaugurated a €2.1 million innovation hub in Velenje on 13 February. The R&D centre will develop household appliances for the European market and kitchen and premium appliances for the global market.

The centre will bring different professions under one roof, creating a workplace that will encourage cooperation where agile methods of product development will be easy to establish, Hisense Europe board member Boštjan Pečnik told reporters after the opening ceremony.

The R&D centre is part of a €39 million project that will continue until the end of 2024 and is eligible for up to €9 million in incentives. The company will develop new generations of products, modernise production and expand laboratory capacities.

Asked why Velenje was chosen as the centre's location, Pečnik said the Chinese owners of Gorenje quickly learned that Slovenia had a lot of expertise and good engineers to offer. They see the centre in Velenje as one of their key long-term investments.

Although the majority of the R&D centre is located in Velenje, the company also has some 50 development engineers in Ljubljana, Pečnik said, adding that the logistics between Ljubljana and Velenje was still challenging.

The company plans to continue to employ experts from diverse fields in Velenje in the coming years. The Velenje R&D centre offers 250 job positions, 220 of which are permanent. Hisense Europe has 610 employees working in development, 470 of them in Slovenia.

"Our focus is growth and growth will allow for more and more high vale added products to be made in Slovenia in the future," said Pečnik, noting that the company has increased its market share in Europe from 3.3% to 5% in the past three years.

On behalf of Hisense Europe, Pečnik thanked the Slovenian authorities for recognising their potential and made the project possible with the help of the investment promotion law passed at the end of 2022.

President Nataša Pirc Musar attended the inauguration ceremony along with Hisense Europe chairman Jianmin Han and Chinese Ambassador Wang Shunqing. She underscored the importance of jobs that create high value added and of green technologies.

She suggested Slovenia too should muster more courage to invest in China. She believes the potential exists and hopes that this investment will encourage more Slovenian companies to invest in China, where some larger Slovenian companies are already present.

Hisense Europe has business units in 27 European countries. It develops most major household appliances in Slovenia, notably cooking, washing and refrigeration appliances, while other products are developed in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Hisense acquired Gorenje in 2018. Its takeover bid at the time valued Gorenje at €293 million.


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