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Largest Norwegian furniture producer chooses Panevezys FEZ

Norwegian furniture manufacturer IMG Group AS (part of the largest furniture manufacturer in Norway - Ekornes Group) has chosen Panevezys Free Economic Zone (FEZ) for its first combined production and distribution facility in Europe. Investments are planned to take place in several stages. Initial investments will reach 10 million Euros creating 125 jobs. Construction of the new factory is planned to be finished by the beginning of 2019.

Subsidiary company IMG Lithuania has already been established. IMG Group is confident that development will be key in company's ambitions to double the size of the business within the next five years.

„IMG Lithuania will strengthen our competitive position in Europe whilst building on our core strength in vertically integrated production. This is key in allowing IMG to deliver our range of comfort focused products with industry leading quality. Creating the best possible value for consumers is core to IMG. I look forward to the possibilities that Lithuania brings to our European business" - IMG Group President James Tate.

This is a cornerstone development for IMG as it looks to further its competitive position in Europe. Currently company's European business is built around container supply from Asia. James Tate, the President of IMG commented that 'This new facility will enable IMG to reduce product delivery times as well as providing development possibilities for European specific product ranges. The increased flexibility will mean IMG can better serve our current customers as well as enabling expansion into new, untapped markets'.

IMG Group is hopeful that the new facility in Panevezys FEZ will help build flexible supply and production possibilities as Panevezys region is known for its strong supply chain for most industries, but especially for furniture industry. A full local supply chain needed for furniture manufacturing is available within 50 kilometres - wooden frames and components, standard and moulded foam, textile, metal frames and other components of highest standards and quality.

Lars Inge Solnørdal Jakobsen, the COO of IMG confirms that 'Panevezys in Lithuania was selected due to the strategically advantageous location, a strong and skilled labour force who are furniture specialists as well as the ease of doing business in Lithuania'.

Panevezys FEZ CEO Rokas Krivonis notes that IMG Group's decision to invest in Panevezys confirms that the region is a strong modern manufacturing hub both in Lithuania and on the European level. There are more than 20 foreign investors present in the region of which 16 are from Norway.

„Investors value Panevezys FEZ not only for qualified workforce, strong supply chain, but also for the speed that it takes to complete investment projects. We are able to offer temporary production facilities nearby to investors, right after signing the agreements that we suggested to IMG Group as well. And also, on separate agreement, our local construction management team can make sure that turn-key projects are completed in 8-10 months", - says Mr Krivonis.

The provisional plan for IMG is to begin site construction in mid-2018, with the aim of commencing limited production and distribution in the first half of 2019.

About Panevezys Free Economic Zone

It is a free economic zone operating since 2014 made up of 47 hectares territory. Panevezys FEZ has fully ready infrastructure (gas, electricity, water, sewage, roads, lighting, etc.) for green-field developments. All land plots can be formed according to investors' needs.

In the short term there will be more than 750 jobs created and more than 30 million Euros of investments attracted to Panevezys FEZ. There are currently two more factories in the design phase in Panevezys FEZ (not including IMG Lithuania). It is planned that the contracts will be signed in the first half of 2018.

About IMG Group

IMG Group AS is part of the Ekornes Group that is the largest Norwegian furniture producer, specialising in sofas and comfort armchairs. In publicly available information Ekornes states that IMG Group products are most well-known in Australian and US markets. The group has 9 manufacturing plants and the only shareholder of IMG Lithuania is Norway's IMG Holdco.

According to publicly available financial reports, in the year 2016 Ekornes accumulated a turnover of 3143,4 million Norwegian kroner (319,9 million Euros) and had 2146 employees. IMG Group turnover reached 452 million Norwegian kroner (45,9 million Euros) and had 676 employees.

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