When investor is a welcome guest
By Artem Vengerov
For several decades, the unfinished premises remained unoccupied at Smorgon Aggregate Plant. Now, an investor has arrived, proposing the construction of a facility to produce furniture components. Already, work is in full swing, as Kronospan BR’s Director, Alexey Zvertovsky, tells us. The schedule has been brought forward, with the first chipboard due to be produced by summer. The facility is to come into operation by stages: initially, chipboard, followed by a flooring line. The investment project is worth over 200m Euros.
The facility will occupy a large territory of about 64 hectares, including warehouses for timber, the enterprise itself and other premises. Unsurprisingly, much work lies ahead. After repair work is complete, new equipment will be supplied to the site (around 800 cars with up to 10,000 tonnes of cargo).
Many other venues were studied before the Smorgon site was decided upon. According to Mr. Zvertovsky, proximity to the Customs Union and Western European markets is a vital factor, as are the fine rail and road links, the availability of gas and electricity and proximity to a fuelling station (under construction). “Well-developed infrastructure is extremely important. Some sites might have needed gas or electric lines laid for five kilometres but, here, everything is already to hand. This lessens costs and means faster realisation,” Mr. Zvertovsky adds. The availability of a qualified workforce was also essential as, in the future, 300 new jobs are to be created. Moreover, another 3,000 jobs will become available at accompanying facilities.
The factories require a great deal of raw materials, so must keep at least 200,000-300,000 cubic metres of timber at their warehouses. Mr. Zvertovsky explains, “We’ve agreed on the amount Belarus can supply. Moreover, the company plans to independently harvest timber as, according to the Forestry Ministry, almost 2m cubic metres of forests remain uncut every year countrywide. We’ll try to set up our own timber harvesting company, as we’re implementing the latest technologies in the field of timber use in some countries. We regularly consult with Belarus regarding this issue — talking to the corresponding department of the Economy Ministry and Bellesbumprom Concern.”
The new facility will be export oriented. “We’ve agreed not to create any significant competition on the domestic market for furniture, rivalling Belarus’ state enterprises,” notes Mr. Zvertovsky. Analysing the experience of one of the company’s Polish enterprises, specialists from Kronospan BR are convinced that the Belarusian market for chipboard is about to grow, justifying the establishment of new furniture producing facilities. They believe that the Smorgon District will see more such factories open in future.