A giant LED factory next to the Meuse TGV station? For the traveler who gets off the train in this station lost between Verdun and Bar-le-Duc, visualizing the scale of the project remains a challenge. Located in the town of Trois-Domaines, a village of 130 inhabitants, the place is bucolic, with its fields as far as the eye can see and its placid Deuxnouds stream. Yet it is here that the Chinese group Inesa wants to build its first factory outside China, a giant site of 60,000 m2 for which Prime Minister Manuel Valls lays the first stone, Monday, March 21.
The site, which will initially employ 200 people, will also host an R&D center, in partnership with the French group Arelis. The investment is estimated at 100 million euros, making it the largest Chinese industrial Chinese investment in France. The site will consist of two V-shaped buildings, a 60-meter-high tower housing an 18-storey showroom, the R&D center and the administration, and an 8-shaped body of water, a lucky number. in China. Entry into service is scheduled for the end of 2017.
The Meuse preferred to Hungary
Why on earth did the giant Inesa ($ 9 billion in turnover, 150 companies, 23,000 employees) choose this bucolic Meuse site? “We will be close to everything, assures Challenges Zhao Qi Meng, the group’s European president. Paris and Roissy are an hour away, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany are not far away. This site will be our European production center, it will irrigate the whole continent. ” The Chinese group had also studied the possibility of building its factory in Hungary, but France quickly imposed itself. “First, the made in France and the made in Hungary or the made in China, it is not the same thing, assures the manager. Above all, it is easy to find excellent technicians and researchers here, which is essential for our products with high added value. ”
The objective of Inesa, which bought the manufacturer of bulbs Sylvania last January, is ambitious: to make France its advanced base for selling its LED systems to local communities, industries, airports or highways. To attract local players who are often penniless, the group has a great asset in its pocket: a capital contribution of 3 billion euros, intended to help communities finance installation work. “We will be remunerated on the energy savings achieved,” assures Zhao Qi Meng, who is targeting around twenty large cities and infrastructures in France. Considering the energy savings allowed by LEDs, in the order of 50 to 60%, everyone is a winner. ”
A project presented at COP21
However, initiating such a project in France remains difficult, believes the leader of Inesa. “In China, many tell me that I am crazy to invest in France,” he says. It takes a long time to realize the projects, to convince the people on the spot. The French are often very sure of themselves and do not like to move too much. To make things happen here, you have to cut heads! ” The Chinese group was nonetheless able to count on political support at the highest level: the protocol for the establishment of the site in the Meuse was signed by Manuel Valls and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiandg in January 2015. The model of the plant was signed. was presented at COP 21 last December, in the presence of Laurent Fabius and Ségolène Royal.
This political support is also gnashing some teeth in Lorraine. The French group Eclatec, established in neighboring Meurthe-et-Moselle, thus split from a vitriolic platform, titled “Trop, c’est trop!”, In Les Echos on March 17th. The French SME denounced there “the massive support” and the “disproportionate means” brought by the public authorities to the Chinese project. “This disproportionate concern [dénature] market conditions ”, thus assured the company, judging the public lighting sector“ very narrow ”and“ already traumatized in France due to the slowdown in construction in recent years ”. Eclatec even assures that Inesa offers in China “materials very largely inspired by its own products”.
Asked by Challenges, the departmental council of the Meuse remains straight in its boots. “There has been no public aid given to the project, and no request formulated by the Chinese group,” assures David Malingrey, technical advisor to the president.