William Hughes Ltd, a high tech manufacturing company and supplier to the aerospace, motor vehicle and medical industries, came to Bulgaria in 2003 to build a wire form and spring making business. Its Bulgarian operation has now doubled in size and is proving to be a dynamic low-cost centre for its labour-intensive sections with 60 local staff and one British general manager at its headquarters near Plovdiv. The company also owns and runs a hotel in Bansko with another one to follow.
Following the manufacturing rush into Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, Ben Cox, general manager of William Hughes Bulgaria, says the decision to choose Bulgaria was instinctive. "We just liked Bulgaria more than its competitors. Bulgaria's advantages are a ready supply of a capable workforce and its relative low cost. Also, as automotive companies move further east, we are already there and ready to supply."
William Hughes' timing and choice of location proved to be just right. Just as its customers were considering low-cost suppliers and locations, the company invested in state of the art machinery. The UK Trade and Investment proved an invaluable sponsor.
Cox attributes the company's success to its conscientious employees. "We have worked hard at creating a productive work ethic in our factory and employees tend to rise to that. We have a very low turnover of staff. I am very proud to say that the Bulgarian team has developed skills that we have recently exported back to the UK and I expect this to continue."
He notes that Bulgarians enjoy an excuse to have a party. "They love to celebrate every birthday and name-day in the office and on the factory floor but behind the veneer of Coca Cola and chocolate they are all working very hard and they are available to solve problems 24 hours a day. The British workforce could take some lessons from this."