Can Danish companies find the perfect partner in Slovenia?
Slovenia is the only country in the world with the word ‘love’ in its name, but it’s keen to show countries like Denmark that there’s also plenty to love about the country itself.
Diplomatically at least, Slovenia has chosen Denmark as its best bet in northern Europe. On Amaliegade, a stone’s throw from the royal residences, the country has a seven-state hub embassy, representing its presence not just in Denmark but also in the other four Nordic countries and the two Baltic states Estonia and Lithuania.
Raising the profile
Tina Lampelj, an economic counsellor at the embassy, explained that one of her country’s biggest challenges in encouraging and facilitating bilateral trade is to raise awareness of Slovenia.
“Slovenia isn’t really known here. It’s not that people associate anything bad with the country – they don’t associate anything at all,” she said.
At least worth a stop
The embassy is active in showcasing the country as a tourist destination and promoting Slovenian companies as reliable business partners.
When it comes to tourism, some Danes might have been to Slovenia without even knowing it.
“Slovenia has great potential as a boutique tourist destination for Danes. It is well-suited to outdoor holidays with green countryside and changing seasons. We have excellent service and facilities for wellness and medical-related travel,” Lampelj said.
“Many Danes holiday in Croatia and travel by car. This means actually passing through Slovenia. It only takes two and a half hours to travel the length of the country. We would like to encourage people to stay a few days in our country, visit our capital, explore the nature and Slovenia’s countryside, and taste great Slovenian wines and cuisine.”
But whereas Slovenia may currently be overlooked as an attractive tourist destination, it is well established as a pioneering industrial nation.
There are some striking examples of this to be found in a number of sectors. The Slovenian company Akrapovič manufactures exhaust systems for some of the world’s top motorcycle and supercar brands including Ducati, Harley Davidson, Lamborghini and McLaren.
Another Slovenian high-flyer, in the true sense of the word, is the light aircraft manufacturer Pipistral. It was the overall winner of the NASA General Aviation Technology Challenge in 2008 and provided the hardware for the first-ever round-the-world flight in an ultralight aircraft.
There are companies that are already well established on the Danish market, such as Gorenje, which manufacturers high quality electrical appliances, and Adria Mobil, a leading producer of motorhomes.
Pride and performance
Lampelj emphasises that national pride in good quality work is at the root of these and other manufacturing successes.
“The country’s most important asset throughout its long industrial tradition is its people,” she said.
“They are highly qualified, hard-working, dedicated, loyal and trustworthy.”
Slovenia doesn’t market itself as a low-cost destination for outsourcing – companies can expect to pay 14,600 euros (about 110,000 kroner) a year for a skilled worker – but Lampelj is confident that the price-to-performance ratio is highly competitive.
International companies like Panasonic, BMW, Renault, Volkswagen and Goodyear already have a manufacturing presence in Slovenia, and some big Danish names, such as Danfoss and Jysk, have also got in on the act.
In December last year, the Slovenian Embassy organised a business conference at the premises of Danske Erhverv to coincide with the visit of a Slovenian B-to-B delegation to encourage co-operation between companies in the two countries.
Lampelj believes that there is much unexplored potential here.
“For example, rich forests with high quality timber cover more than half of Slovenia and there is a dedicated wood processing industry,” she said.
“Given Denmark’s flair for furniture design, there is an obvious opportunity for co-operation. One of the ideas the ambassador [Tone Kajzer] is keen to develop is to promote co-operation among Slovenian and Danish companies to eventually ‘join forces’ and work together hand-in-hand in the fast-growing markets in Asia.”