Koh-i-noor is moving from Vršovice. We are planning a merger and a name change, says the director

Will you invest the money earned for the Vršovice area in the development in Bílovec?

Yes, we are counting on it. Part of the funds was used to purchase shares in Massag, the other part will be used to prepare the premises in Bílovec, transfer of production and further development.

How will you develop the company in Bílovec?

Massag has several production divisions, into which production from Prague will be gradually integrated. The largest part of the production in Bílovec will be implemented in the production division of the classics. Gradually, we are preparing to prepare investments evenly between the divisions that already operate there. Both Massag and Koh-i-noor no longer produce only for the textile, clothing or leather industries, but also for other industries, such as the automotive and paper industries. It depends on how industrial production, and especially the automotive industry in Europe, will develop in the coming years.

What will be the main production content of the associated companies?

On the Koh-i-noor side, it will be a traditional production of metal textile haberdashery, in which the company has continued since the time of Henry Waldes, whose main representative is the traditional press-stitching button, called “patent”. On the Massag side, these are traditional trouser hooks, shoe buckles and eyelets and many other small metal products.

What components do you manufacture for the automotive industry?

Small pressed products for the field of electrical engineering or locking systems.

Where and what does the company export, what markets has it maintained with its assortment?

Koh-i-noor exports its products to many countries, we have customers not only in almost all of Europe, the Middle and Far East, the USA, Canada, but also in Russia and Africa. The main export items include brass and plastic staples, thimbles, needles and pins, rivet and jeans buttons, trouser clips, hair clips, hooks and eyelets.

Do you already have an investment balance sheet for the combined companies Massag and Koh-inoor in the coming years?

The specific balance sheet is not yet elaborated in detail. The selection of the use of the current premises and technologies that are already in Massag is currently underway. The plan of investments and further development will be formed only after the completion of the transfer of production from Vršovice to Bílovec.

And does it already have a specific date?

The relocation of production is tentatively set for this year, but the exact date with regard to the size of the move cannot be determined.

What is last year’s economic result of the company?

We are slightly at a loss due to the creation of reserve funds for the relocation and reduction of some part of production. We were also affected by the effects of the coronary crisis, as both Koh-i-nooor and Massag produce for the automotive industry, which has slowed considerably. However, we believe that after the merger and taking advantage of synergies and greater labor productivity, companies will generate a solid positive result.

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How did the covid situation and price increases affect you specifically?

Of course, the coronary crisis came first, against which we, like others, had to take action. However, given Koh-i-noor’s relatively broad portfolio diversification, the impacts have been gradual rather than dramatic. We were not forced to drastically reduce the number of employees.

As for the rise in material prices, it was really unexpected and dramatic, and even more serious was their shortage, which affected both us and our customers. However, we dealt with this and deliveries for our strategic customers were not significantly endangered. We were able to secure the material in time.

Now that you are moving, there are likely to be staff cuts ˆ

Of course, there will be some restrictions, but some of Koh-i-noor’s activities will remain in Prague. We will keep certain storage facilities, maintenance and development workshop, design and technology, sales or finance departments, but it will be in other areas than the current Koh-i-noor.

How do you evaluate this year’s situation in production?

I see the biggest problem in the sharp rise in energy prices for 2022 and others in a certain ambiguity of further development. It will depend on whether the production and retail chain can bear the price and the customer is willing to pay for it. The question is whether green energy will not mean another cessation of industrial production in Europe.

The pandemic hit the Czech Koh-i-noor.  Holding's profit fell by almost half

You mentioned Mr. Waldes, the company’s founder and original owner. The template for the company’s logo was painted by František Kupka, supported by Waldes. Does Koh-i-noor continue to develop his art collection or support artists?

We do not continue to create collections. As for artists, in the past we have focused on supporting fashion designers. We also supported a smaller gallery, but everything within the capabilities of today’s society.

In 1907, when the factory started operating, it was the most modern production in Prague. There was also a library, spa and gym. Will you continue this tradition in Bílovec?

This is a difficult question, because some buildings in the Bílovec area are even older than here in Vršovice. We want to preserve the buildings and continue their maintenance and use. Of course, there are also several buildings whose use has lost its meaning. Instead, we plan to build more modern halls, but everything will depend on the economic situation.

This year, Koh-i-noor is celebrating 120 years since the start of automated patent production. What makes that year otherwise interesting?

For us, this year will be exceptional in that, without any fundamentally negative impact on customers, we have to manage the transfer to Bílovec and then start production there. We hope that this will enable us to maintain production at Koh-i-noor, even if it is no longer in Vršovice.

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How has it happened historically that there are two independent Koh-i-noors in the Czech Republic, one in České Budějovice and the other in Vršovice?

Two successful entrepreneurs, Mr. Jindřich Waldes and the Hartmund family, used the name Koh-i-noor diamond to promote their products. And even before the Second World War, there were legal disputes over the use of the name, but everything was practically ended by the Second World War and the subsequent nationalization. Both companies went into privatization in the 1990s separately.

After the coupon privatization, the heirs of Jindřich Waldes applied for their original property. Is this problem solved?

The disputes were already settled and the court ruled in favor of the shareholders.

You also use machines that are a hundred or more years old in production, what is the fate of moving them?

Some of the machines are unique and have been made especially for the production of our products. We maintain them, carry out both minor and general repairs and plan to keep them. Their replacement would be economically inefficient, if not impossible. In an area where machines are not unique, we are gradually changing them and modernizing production.

Petr Bohumínský

  • He has been working in Koh-i-noor with his father Pavel Bohumínský for almost 25 years.
  • He joined the domestic sales department in 1998, and after several years he moved to the position of sales director.
  • In 2013, he replaced his father in the position of CEO.

Photo gallery: What it looks like in Prague’s Koh-i-noorce: