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RELOCATION OF OPERATIONS

Relocation of operations

relates to the process of moving operations, headquarters, manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, or shared service centers from a home country (offshoring), back to the home country (reshoring), or simply to a new location within the same area.

The reasons usually include cost reduction, operational efficiency, market access, political risks, issues related to the supply chain, expansion plans, or access to available human resources.

What are the benefits?

  • Cost Management: One of the primary drivers for relocation is the reduction of operational costs. This includes lower labor costs, reduced taxes, and cheaper raw materials. For example, companies often move manufacturing to regions with lower wage standards to decrease production costs significantly.

  • Operational Efficiency covers the ability to optimize processes to manufacture products or deliver services at a lower cost while improving quality and customer satisfaction. Key advantages include reduced lead times, economies of scale, and increased productivity.

  • Access to Human Resources Relocating operations can also be motivated by the availability of specialized talent. Industries such as technology and pharmaceuticals might relocate R&D operations to areas known for their innovative ecosystems and skilled workforce. According to Eurostat more than 75% of EU companies already struggle to find professionals with the necessary skills. By 2035, there will be about 50 million fewer people of working age in Europe than in 2010. 

  • Proximity to Strategic Partners can be mostly seen in the automotive sector, where the whole supply chain has to follow major car makers to the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Furthemore, establishing operations closer to target markets can enhance service delivery and customer satisfaction by reducing shipping times and costs. It also helps companies gain a deeper understanding of the local market dynamics, which is crucial for tailoring products and services to meet local demands.

The Challenges

The process of relocating operations involves various complexities as it impacts various aspects of the business. Some of them include:

  • Cultural differences

  • Language barriers

  • Employee morale

  • Talent retention

  • Trade unions, strikes

  • Project management

  • Risk management

  • Supply chain disruption

  • Downtime and disruption

  • Legal compliance

  • Data privacy

  • Quality consistency

  • IT Infrastructure

  • Technology transition

  • PR and Reputation management

  • Overall project costs

The Solution

Executive Interim Management is a modern managerial solution, in which an experienced senior executive or a complete team is temporarily engaged by a company to address a specific leadership challenge on a short-term basis. 

An Executive Interim Manager is a highly experienced senior executive typically engaged for a few months to provide leadership, drive change, address a specific issue, or manage complex projects. Key characteristics include experience, seniority, immediate availability, project orientation and operational hands-on approach.

Analysis of Relocating Operations to the CEE Region

Relocating operations, especially within the CEE region, involves a strategic overhaul of existing business models. Companies must evaluate their core activities and determine which segments of their operations are most suited for relocation to maximize benefits while mitigating risks. This decision often hinges on factors such as the maturity of local markets, the regulatory environment, and the ability to maintain quality control across international borders.

 

For companies in industries such as manufacturing, information technology, and customer service, the CEE region presents unique opportunities. For instance, Poland and the Czech Republic are becoming hubs for automotive and electronics manufacturing, while Romania and Ukraine are recognized for their IT outsourcing capabilities.

Recent studies highlight the growing appeal of the CEE region as a destination for operational relocation. According to a 2023 report by the World Bank, countries within this region have seen a 20% increase in foreign direct investments over the past five years. Additionally, labor costs in the CEE region remain on average 40% lower than those in Western Europe, while maintaining competitive productivity levels.

 

Moreover, data from the European Centre for Economic Studies demonstrates that companies relocating to the CEE region have experienced a 15-25% increase in operational efficiency and a noticeable improvement in market responsiveness due to closer proximity to emerging markets in the East.

The relocation of operations to the CEE region represents a significant strategic move for companies aiming to enhance competitiveness and innovation. While the challenges are non-trivial, the long-term benefits—cost reductions, access to skilled labor, and improved market reach—can redefine a company's operational dynamics and global footprint. At CE Interim, we are dedicated to leveraging our deep understanding of the CEE region to support your company's successful transition, ensuring that strategic goals are met with precision and efficiency.

The benefits of Operations Relocation are further visible in the following conducted case studies: 

Case Study no. 1

Background

A prominent manufacturing company specializing in high-end electronic components faced significant challenges related to escalating production costs, supply chain inefficiencies, and the need to expand their market reach. The firm sought a strategic relocation of its manufacturing operations to address these challenges and secure a competitive edge in the global market.

Objectives

  • Reduce Production Costs: Lower direct and indirect manufacturing costs, including labor, materials, and overhead.

  • Streamline Supply Chain: Enhance supply chain logistics for better efficiency and reduced lead times.

  • Expand Market Access: Move closer to key markets to reduce transportation costs and improve customer service.

  • Sustain Environmental and Social Responsibility: Relocate to a region with stringent environmental regulations and a strong community ethos.

Strategy

  • Conducted a comprehensive evaluation of potential locations, considering factors like labor market, logistical advantages, proximity to suppliers and customers, and regulatory environment.

  • Selected Poland as the ideal location due to its robust manufacturing sector, strategic position in Europe, skilled workforce, and favorable economic conditions.

  • Developed partnerships with local suppliers and logistics providers to streamline the supply chain.

  • Implemented state-of-the-art inventory management and production planning tools to optimize efficiency.

  • Oversaw the design and construction of a modern manufacturing facility that emphasizes sustainability and operational efficiency.

  • Integrated advanced manufacturing technologies to enhance productivity and product quality.

  • Launched comprehensive training programs to upskill the local workforce and align them with the company’s technological and operational standards.

  • Initiated community engagement programs to establish the company as a responsible and contributing member of the local community.

Outcome

An experienced interim management team from CE Interim was deployed to lead the relocation project, working in tandem with the company's leadership to ensure a smooth transition. Key accomplishments included:

  • Cost Efficiency: Achieved a 25% reduction in production costs within the first year, enhancing profitability.

  • Supply Chain Improvements: Reduced lead times by 20% and increased supply chain reliability through local partnerships and logistics optimization.

  • Market Expansion: Enhanced market access within the European Union, leading to a 15% increase in sales in the first year post-relocation.

  • Environmental and Social Impact: Met all environmental regulations and contributed significantly to local community development, enhancing brand reputation and employee satisfaction.

 

The strategic relocation of the manufacturing operations to Poland, guided by CE Interim, was a resounding success. It not only achieved the objectives of reducing costs and expanding market reach but also positioned the company as a leader in sustainable manufacturing practices. The move enhanced operational efficiencies, improved supply chain logistics, and fostered a positive impact on the local community and environment.

Case Study no. 2

Background

A globally recognized cosmetics manufacturer, known for its high-quality skincare and beauty products, faced market saturation in its traditional markets alongside increasing production costs. To sustain growth and leverage new market opportunities, the company aimed to establish a manufacturing presence in the Central and Eastern European region, renowned for its strategic location, skilled workforce, and growing consumer base for beauty products. CE Interim was engaged to navigate this strategic shift, emphasizing efficiency, market penetration, and sustainability.

Objectives

  • Access Emerging Markets: Penetrate new markets within the CEE region, leveraging its growing demand for premium cosmetics.

  • Optimize Production Costs: Reduce manufacturing and logistics costs while maintaining the brand’s high-quality standards.

  • Sustainability Goals: Implement environmentally sustainable practices in line with European standards and corporate sustainability goals.

  • Local Engagement and Development: Foster strong community ties and create employment opportunities in the local economy.

Strategy

  • Performed an exhaustive analysis of potential locations within the CEE region, evaluating factors such as market access, labor costs, and logistical networks.

  • Chose Hungary for its strategic location in Europe, competitive cost structure, skilled labor force, and supportive regulatory environment for manufacturing.

  • Designed and built a modern manufacturing facility equipped with cutting-edge production technologies to optimize efficiency and reduce waste.

  • Implemented lean manufacturing processes to minimize costs and maximize productivity without compromising product quality.

  • Integrated sustainable production practices, including resource-efficient processes and renewable energy sources, to minimize environmental impact.

  • Ensured full compliance with EU environmental regulations and standards, setting a benchmark for sustainability in the cosmetics industry.

  • Launched initiatives to hire and train local employees, emphasizing skill development and career advancement within the company.

  • Engaged in community programs and partnerships to support local development and build a positive brand image.

Outcome

Key accomplishments encompassed:

  • Market Entry: Successfully launched the brand in multiple CEE markets, achieving significant market penetration and brand recognition within the first year.

  • Reduced Production Costs: Achieved a 20% reduction in overall production costs through strategic sourcing, operational efficiencies, and lower labor costs.

  • Sustainability Achievements: Met and exceeded sustainability targets, with the new facility receiving accolades for its innovative environmental management systems.

  • Positive Local Impact: Created over 200 jobs in the region, with extensive training programs ensuring a high-skilled workforce, and received positive feedback for community engagement efforts.

The strategic establishment of manufacturing operations in Hungary marked a pivotal step for the cosmetics manufacturer in expanding its footprint into the CEE region. This move not only optimized the company’s cost structure and sustainability profile but also opened up new avenues for growth in emerging European markets.

Case Study no. 3

Background

A leading manufacturer of high-performance automotive parts, known for its precision engineering and innovation, faced challenges with high operational costs and limited market access due to its location. To capitalize on growth opportunities and streamline its operations, the company aimed to relocate its manufacturing operations to a European country that offered both a strategic market advantage and cost efficiencies. CE Interim was entrusted to orchestrate this pivotal shift, drawing on our vast experience in operational optimization and strategic relocations.

Objectives

  • Access to New Markets: Establish a strong foothold in the European automotive market, focusing on both OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and aftermarket segments.

  • Reduction of Production Costs: Lower the manufacturing costs associated with labor, logistics, and raw materials to improve overall profitability.

  • Enhanced Supply Chain Efficiency: Position the company closer to key suppliers and customers to streamline the supply chain and reduce lead times.

  • Preservation of Quality and Innovation: Maintain the company’s reputation for high-quality parts and continuous innovation within the automotive sector.

Strategy

  • Performed an extensive evaluation of potential locations within Europe, considering labor market conditions, logistical networks, proximity to the automotive manufacturing hubs, and operational cost structures.

  • Selected the Czech Republic for its strategic location in Central Europe, strong automotive manufacturing base, skilled workforce, and favorable economic conditions.

  • Overseen the establishment of a cutting-edge manufacturing facility, incorporating advanced robotics and automation to enhance production efficiency.

  • Optimized logistics and supply chain management through strategic partnerships with local and regional suppliers of raw materials and components.

  • Developed a targeted marketing and sales strategy to increase brand visibility and penetration in the European automotive market.

  • Engaged in strategic collaborations with leading automotive manufacturers and distributors to ensure product integration into existing and emerging automotive platforms.

  • Launched a specialized training program to upskill the local workforce, ensuring adherence to the company’s high standards of quality and precision.

  • Promoted a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, encouraging collaboration between R&D and production teams to foster new product development.

Outcome

The project was lead by an experienced interim manager selected by our team at CE Interim. His key achievements included:

  • Market Access: Achieved significant inroads into the European automotive market, establishing partnerships with key OEMs and aftermarket distributors, resulting in a 20% growth in sales in the first year.

  • Cost Efficiency: Realized a 25% reduction in production costs due to lower labor costs, improved supply chain efficiencies, and advanced manufacturing technologies.

  • Supply Chain Optimization: Enhanced supply chain agility and responsiveness, reducing lead times by 15% and strengthening the company's position in the competitive automotive parts market.

  • Innovation and Quality: Sustained high levels of product innovation and quality, with several new patents filed and a consistent product defect rate below industry averages.

The relocation of the automotive parts manufacturer to the Czech Republic marked a transformative phase in the company’s strategy to not just compete but lead in the global automotive industry. This strategic move facilitated  significant cost savings and operational efficiencies also expanding the company’s market presence in Europe.

Relocation of Operations

Summary

Relocating operations is a strategic decision undertaken by companies aiming to optimize their business processes and expand their market presence. This involves moving key business functions from one geographic location to another, often influenced by the pursuit of reduced operational costs, access to specialized talent, and better market opportunities. The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region has emerged as a particularly attractive destination due to its combination of economic and logistical advantages.

 

One of the primary motivations for relocation is cost efficiency. The CEE region offers significantly lower labor costs compared to Western Europe and other developed markets, without compromising on the quality of the workforce. This region also benefits from a strategic geographical position that provides logistical advantages for companies looking to access not just European markets, but also those in Asia and the Middle East.

 

However, relocating operations comes with its set of challenges. Cultural and administrative differences can pose initial hurdles in terms of integration and compliance with local regulations. Additionally, setting up new supply chains can be complex and resource-intensive. Despite these challenges, the long-term benefits often outweigh the initial difficulties, particularly when companies are supported by knowledgeable partners, who provide expert guidance throughout the transition process.

 

In summary, the relocation of operations is a compelling strategic move for companies seeking to enhance their operational efficiencies and penetrate new markets. While the process requires careful planning and adaptation, the advantages of such a move can significantly boost a company’s competitive edge and global standing.

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CE Interim: Cross-cultural Executive Interim Management

We design and implement individual project-based business solutions and together with our industry experts lead companies through transformations to unlock their full potential.

Our Partners stands personally by your side from the project definition, evaluation of the interim manager, through the whole project, until completion, and hand-over, to ensure the agreed objectives are achieved and stay within your organization.

Our Executive Interim Managers have local or international backgrounds, they have studied, lived, and worked in various countries and go through rigorous evaluation processes following a methodology specifically designed for demanding cross-cultural interim missions.

Over the recent decade, we have performed hundreds of successful missions predominantly in Central and Eastern Europe, but also in Asia, the Middle East, and the USA.

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