Villeroy&Boch in Hódmezővásárhely (southeastern Hungary) has carried out a series of investments exceeding HUF 5 billion (EUR 13 million) in three years. This year, the company is expecting a drop in revenue due to the downturn in the construction industry, the director of the company’s bathroom and wellness division said at a press conference on Thursday.
Georg Lörz explained that the total value of the investments was HUF 5.3 billion (EUR 14 million) the biggest part of which, 6.3 million euros, was the installation of new high-pressure toilet casting machines, replacing the previous traditional plaster casting. Two of the four machines are already in operation and the others are due to go into production this year, he noted.
The director stressed that
the aim was not to replace workers with robots, but to help retain the workforce.
This way, they do not have to lift products weighing 30-40 kilograms, meaning they can hire more women to work on the production lines. He explained that in Hódmezővásárhely they face the difficulty of finding enough skilled workers, so they also employ foreigners. Currently, they employ 750 people.
They have also installed a robotic glazing line worth €3.8 million and are almost finished with the installation of a solar panel system, twice 500 kilowatts, for which they are spending €1.4 million.
This, together with the waste water treatment equipment, has reduced annual carbon dioxide emissions by five percent.
Villeroy&Boch is celebrating its 275th anniversary this year, founded in 1748. It is headquartered in Mettlach, Germany. They employ 6,400 people worldwide, have factories in 13 countries, and sell to 125 countries. They offer products in two categories (bathroom & wellness and food & lifestyle). Their main market is Europe, but interest in tableware and so-called lifestyle products is growing in the United States, and they have also started to expand in the Middle East and Asia.
The predecessor of the Hódmezővásárhely factory was the Alföld Porcelain Factory (Alföldi Porcelángyár), which was handed over in 1967, and bought by Villeroy&Boch in 1992. The company’s turnover in 2022, was HUF 27.6 billion (EUR 71.8 million), compared to HUF 24.3 billion (EUR 63.2 million) in the previous year.
In the second quarter of 2023, the impact of the new crisis was already visible, with demand falling mainly due to high prices, interest rates, and inflation. Their profit before tax was 6.3 percent down on the previous year, and turnover was also down by around 10 percent, said the head of the business unit, who expects demand and turnover to increase again in 2025.
The company produces around one million products a year, 80 percent of which are exported, with the main markets being Germany, France, and the Scandinavian countries.
Since 2019, Hódmezővásárhely has been the company’s logistics center for Central Europe, and due to cheaper labor costs, the accounting and database management has also been moved here.