German auto cable and harness producer Leoni AG. is growing its manufacturing footprint in Serbia at pace, announcing a start on a fourth local plant, weeks after inaugurating its third facility there.

Last month, the Nuremberg, Germany-based company formally opened the second €22m phase of its development at Niš in southern Serbia. Construction of stage one of the operation began in February 2017 and initial production was launched last July.

Now, the Leoni Wiring Systems plant, which has been producing wire harnesses for an unnamed premium car maker, currently employs a 1,200 strong workforce. By the end of next year, that employment figure is set to rise to 2,200.

Leoni has revealed it will start work this summer on the site of its fourth facility in the central Serbian city of Kraljevo, where it will produce cables for Mercedes cars. The €60m unit, to employ between 4,000 and 5,000, will cover an area of 45,000m2 and should be completed by the beginning of 2020.

This new facility will represent the biggest investment that Leoni has made in Serbia to date, according to Clemens Sachs, managing director of Leoni’s Serbian operations.

The planned site is north of Leoni’s concentration of operations in south eastern Serbia. The firm’s original plant, established in 2009, was at Prokuplje while a second unit was opened five years later in nearby Malošište. The third plant now completed at Niš is located slightly further north of these facilities.

Leoni Wiring Systems is currently in expansionist mood as the company confirmed when the Niš extension was launched last month. “The inauguration of our plant in Niš is a happy event for the country of Serbia and for our new employees. Today’s celebrations are also this year’s first official sign of our continuing expansion.

“Leoni plans to build five more product ion facilities for wiring systems in the near future,” Martin Stüttem, a group director responsible for the wiring systems division revealed at the event.

Leoni’s expansion at Niš earned praise from Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vučić who expressed great satisfaction that the enlarged operation will create more jobs in the country’s south, and area where there has been high unemployment.

When the German company completes its planned Kraljevo facility, Leoni is expected to become Serbia’s largest manufacturing employer with more than 11,000 employees.

Source; PNE

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