The only car manufacturer in Slovenia and the country's largest exporter, the best Slovenian bank, the second largest car dealer and the largest dairy – the common denominator of some of the best and largest firms within the Slovenian economy is that they are among the few French investments in the country.
The total number of such investments may be small – around 60 – yet they make an important contribution to Slovenia's economy. Moreover, as they often report excellent results these subsidiaries also play important roles for their parent companies.
The key French investment in Slovenia is also one of the biggest foreign direct investments in the country: Revoz, Renault's factory in Novo mesto, is the sixth largest Slovenian company and the nation's largest exporter, with an 8-percent share of Slovenia's total exports. It produces three models, the new Twingo, Smart ForFour and the latest fourth generation Clio. Novo mesto' s plant produced 133,000 cars last year and ranks – in terms of quality - among the best factories within the group. Revoz plan to increase its sales by 40 percent this year, while the total volume of cars produced should exceed 200,000. Renault cars are sold in Slovenia through a separate company, Renault Nissan, which is the second largest car seller in country, with its 442 million euros of sales also making it the 13th largest company.
In 2001 the Slovenian SKB bank was acquired by the French banking and financial group Société Générale. The bank is regarded as one of the leading ones in the country, and regularly wins the title of the best bank in Slovenia from the magazines Euromoney and The Banker. This year SKB managed to increase its market share of loans to 10 percent.
Ljubljanske mlekarne, Slovenia’s largest dairy, was taken over bythe French Lactalis group four years ago. The total turnover of Lactalis exceeds 17 billion euros, which makes the family-owned group the world’s largest dairy firm, and Europe’s largest cheese producer and milk collector. Ljubljanske mlekarne’s sales revenues reached 150 million in 2016 (ranked 52nd among the largest Slovenian companies).
Poclain Hydraulics, a world leader in hydrostatic transmissions, bought the company Kladivar, based in Žiri, in 2007. The subsidiary became Poclain’s competence center for valves, and grew into third largest plant within the group. In ten years the French group has invested 17 million euros in its Slovenian unit, with a large proportion of these investments going into R&D facilities. In 2013 Poclain opened a new innovation center in Žiri with a prototype test laboratory. This year the company started to build a new valve factory worth four million euros. Laurent Bataille, the group’s president, announced that the company intends to invest 10 million euros in its Žiri’s operations over the next five years.
Another French success story in Slovenia is the automotive interiors supplier Treves. In 2005 the group made a greenfield investment in Bič, close to Novo mesto, to supply Renault’s nearby factory with interior elements. At first, Revoz was the only customer of Treves’ Slovenian subsidiary group. The company’s sales reached 11.8 million euros in 2016, and the firm plans to double this figure in 2018 when it will start to supply interior parts for Jaguar’s E-Pace and I-Pace models, and then also for Land Rover.
In general, French investments in Slovenia perform well above the average. The overall value of trade between the countries is also relatively solid, at around 2.1 billion euros per year. Moreover, with a value of 1.1 billion euros, France is Slovenia’s fifth largest export market. Trade with France represent 4.7 percent of Slovenia’s exports and 3.9 percent of its imports. This is not bad, but it could always be better.