Panattoni opens new factory for Shape Corp.

Published: 22. 09. 2023

Shape Corp. opened its new factory in Nýřany outside Pilsen yesterday, though it could take up to a year for the facility to reach full capacity. The supplier of steel automobile components currently maintains three separate factories around Pilsen. But continued growth made consolidation into a single location an unavoidable reality. It’s an impressive set-up, even with just one of six production lines currently installed at the site. These are enormous machines at least 20 meters in length that turn massive rolls of steel on one end into finished components on the other. Shape managers explained that it takes over two months to move each one of the roll forming production lines and that the process is scheduled to last until the end of 2024. Panattoni bought the land, a brownfield site, together with the investor AEW Europe.

A surprisingly emotional cheer went up from the Shape team when the ribbon was cut at the opening ceremony. “We want to set an example as a sustainable global corporation and reduce our carbon footprint,” said Stephanie Ducroux-Bernache, CEO of Shape Corp.’s European division. “The new factory will set new standards in automation, from optimizing the flow of materials to self-driving vehicles and the most modern welding equipment.” The plant will install solar panels with a capacity of 2MW of power, more than covering its own needs. Shape supplies roughly 300 components to auto manufacturers such as Tesla, Renault, Nissan, Skoda, Toyota, Ford and Stellantis.

The shallow labor market is a constant topic for the Czech industrial sector, but Petr Matějček of Shape says employers who offer good conditions and competitive salaries can succeed. Panattoni director Pavel Sovička says it’s crucial for new investors to have realistic expectations when deciding whether to build factories. Expecting it will be cheap and offering €700 salaries to workers isn’t going to work, in most case.

Industrial developers have had an increasingly difficult time convincing local towns to accept new investments. Here, too, it turns out the issue of employees plays a key role. One problem is that many come in from the surrounding regions and they end up using local services and resources (including schools). Since they live elsewhere, however, local municipality don’t receive any tax revenues from them.

After the ribbon cutting and a tour of the facility, Deputy mayor of Nýřany Zdeněk Zeman told ThePrime his main concern was if the influx of new employees would “fit in” with the rest of the town. He said higher quality employers tend to attract people who get along better with their new neighbors.

“We hope the employees will be trustworthy and that they won’t cause problems,” said Zeman in a mini-interview with ThePrime. “I really think and hope it will be ok. We’ve heard from other towns that factories often use employment agencies and those people don’t have any connection to the location. If those employees then got fired, they didn’t have anywhere to go.”

Asked if Nýřany officials had asked the towns where Shape will be exiting, he said they had. “We got some recommendations where it was possible and they praised Shape as a reliable and proper employer.”

Aren’t there advantages for the town as well?

“There are some, but they’re not the main thing.”

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