Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Add Johnson & Johnson to the list!

I have commented before about Cosco, HP and Unilever as examples that foreign companies can indeed find Greece an attractive place to do business. Now one can add Johnson & Johnson to the list, according to this article in the Ekathimerini.

The chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson Hellas Consumer Products SA, Gerasimos Kosmatos, revealed the company’s intention to transfer the production of some of the group’s products from other countries to its plant at Mandra in western Attica. “The company believes in Greece and bears the responsibility to support it in the effort it is making to stand on its feet again,” Kosmatos said. “We will continue to invest, as the unit here has proven that in spite of all the difficulties it can be productive and flexible,” he added.

Surprisingly, the Greek production unit is one of only three which J&J has in Europe. The factory in Greece is already highly active in exports, with the products it manufactures ending up in some 30 countries. The share of the plant’s output destined for export has risen to 90 percent, from 80 percent a few years ago. Some 500 people are employed at the Mandra facility.

It is interesting to note that none of these companies are from Germany or France, the two countries which - I believe - have the largest credit exposure to Greece and which should have the greatest interest in making their borrower strong again!

The reader Canutely King reminded me, that I had overlooked Henkel which indeed needs to be added to the above list.


  1. With Henkel from Germany that makes 3 in consumer household goods & cosmetics - seems a bit odd, any theories anyone?

    I suspect its 3 J&J plants in Europe for those products, not for the entire J&J group. I wish news media would do fact checking, its very easy these days - no wonder they're going broke.

    There's Accu-Vue contact lens manufacturing in Limerick, several plants in Switzerland producing pharma (e.g anti-virals), neurosurgery equipment, sutures, etc, and a vet product plant in Scotland. And that took me 5 minutes to find.

    Danone operate in Greece - they own Numil Hellas.


    1. Is it possible that these are labour intensive operations - and like the Dacia plant in Romania - the companies can hire and fire easily?

      When there is an upturn, they hire, a downturn they fire. Much cheaper than buying in machines on spec, only to find they're unnecessary.

      My guess is that's why Nissan and BMW have car plants in Britain. They don't need to invest in as many expensive machines. Because you can't hire and fire in the same way in Dk or De which makes machines worthwhile - but only for ventures that are guaranteed for the long term.

    2. Yes, you're probably right, perhaps combined with transport costs. I assume consumer household products are low margin, but they're high volume and bulky. Not the sort of stuff you'd want to put on convoys of lorries in Hamburg bound for Athens or Sofia.

      Henkel is not building any new plant, its moving outsourced manufacturing from a sub contractor in Cyprus to a different sub contractor in Greece - maybe to hop on the Cosco/Trainose transit hub wagon. I wouldn't be surprised if UL and J&J are not 'refurbishing' existing facilities - not as nice as a bright shiny new factory - but its the jobs that count.

      Nissan and BMW are different, but I don't think either is in the UK because of labour costs - their UK history counts.

      Nissan's plant in on a greenfields site from the 80's. It claims to be the 'most efficient car plant' in Europe - whatever that means. It has always used Japanese methods like JIT and Kaizen, and it pioneered being a single union shop in the UK. I would think things would have to go badly wrong in the UK before Nissan relocates.

      On the other hand, the BMW MINI was acquired as part of the Rover Group, the rest of which was sold, including to Honda. IMO - if BMW fell out of love with the MINI it would probably sell it. Maybe to Geely, which just bought what it didn't already have of Manganese Bronze, the makers of the iconic London Black Cab.

      Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) is a technique that Greece could adopt for its governance.

      BTW : Not all Dacia vehicles are built in Romania, some models are built in Morocco!


  2. More to come... maybe soon you'll be able to add Dell, Ikea, Samsung etc to the Cosco/Trainose transit hub list - Major firms watching HP deal

    I wish it was Samsung or Hyundai who were the early adopters of the Cosco/Trainose transit hub model rather than HP. The market for smartphones, tablets, TV and cars looks a lot healthier than desktop and laptop PC's.

    Dell just did a Leveraged Buyout deal with Silver Lake, one possible option is to get out of the PC business, another is to cut margins and compete with Lenovo, Asus etc. Its the largest LBO deal in the technology sector since - forever.

    There's an outside possibility that Bain Capital could take a slice of the action. A consolation prize for Mitt, who might have made a good President if he could have found a good Party.

    How do you know that your getting old?

    When firms that did their IPO deals when you were already middle aged and could afford to buy some stock, start doing their LBO deals - Dell's IPO was in 1988 - only 25 years :(