Legrand, the world leader in the manufacturing of products and systems for electrical installations and information networks in terms of sales, has been present in Hungary for over two decades since it acquired – in 1992, through a privatization deal – the Hungarian Kontakta company which had been operating in Szentes, SE Hungary since 1961, with its predecessor established in 1919 in Budapest.
Nowadays, Legrand, which is considered a global specialist in the area of information networks, has production facilities in 70 countries, employing some 35,000 people, and distributes its products in over 180 countries.
The CEO of Legrand Hungary, László Károlyi outlined the development of the company to Diplomacy and Trade by saying that at the time of the privatization, the annual production of accessories by one employee was 9,000, which grew to 55,000 by 2013. This is due, in part, to an investment of HUF 12.4 billion (EUR 47 million) by Legrand over the past two decades, as well as to the Hungarian expertise at the Szentes plant, which includes a research and development department dedicated to sustainable development through innovation.
Legrand manufactures 180,000 different types of products worldwide, of which it sells 30,000 in Hungary. The product range includes – besides switches and sockets – building automatization (e.g., smart solutions) and energy dissipation systems, and even the installation of structured networks. Legrand’s latest ‘smart home’ technology is presented in a showroom that opened in May 2013 at the company’s Budapest office. It puts energy efficiency in focus in different daily situations families normally live with in their homes. It is possible to program the coordinated ‘behavior’ of different domestic appliances from the TV set to the shades according to ones needs. The showroom also serves educational purposes.
The aim of Legrand is to involve state-of-the art technology in the creation of products that are easy to install and use – accessories that guarantee effective, time-saving work. The high-tech products all reflect the current trends in design, as well. They do not only serve the purpose of energy efficient operation and convenience in one’s home, but also provide complete solutions for electrical equipment in offices, workplaces, industrial facilities and even in hospitals, the CEO says. Since 2007, Legrand Hungary has been among the country’s top 500 companies, with a turnover of HUF 20 billion (EUR 68 million) in 2012. In terms of profit growth, Legrand Hungary is ranked 83rd in the country.
Legrand’s social responsibility activities are geared primarily to the local community in Szentes and to the environment. The management promotes healthy lifestyle through campaigns like supporting mass bicycle rides around town on car-free days. Through a joint foundation with the Hungarian Red Cross, Legrand acknowledges and rewards its employees who donate blood. Cultural and sports activities have also been supported. The company provided accessories for 50 houses and the mayor’s office in Szendrõ, a northeastern Hungarian town, during a flood that ravaged the town. Such help is part of the company’s global ‘electricity for all’ program.
László Károlyi not only successfully manages Legrand Hungary but has also debuted as a business writer. ‘Business Seasons – Business Solutions’ is about business environments changing like seasons. They periodically return and one must not be surprised by them but get used to these changing conditions. “Solutions can be found with creativity” – this is shown in the book through short ‘easy-to-read’ but illuminating stories.