The data recently published by Eurostat revealed that Ukraine became the main country of origin of Europe’s imports of skis in 2017. Out of the total volume of Europe’s imports, over 1.5 million skis and 731.4 thousand snowboards were shipped from Ukraine.
Having passed China, Ukraine became the main country of origin for Europe’s imports of skis in 2017. It should be pointed out that all of the skis in our country are produced at one factory in Western Ukraine. The factory is owned by Fischer, a prominent Austrian corporation. The European firm finds it more efficient to make skis in Ukraine’s Mukachevo instead of Austria’s Ried, where it also owns production facilities. However, Fischer sells just 1% of the goods it produces in Ukraine, while the rest of it is exported.
Skis in our country are produced at a single factory located in Mukachevo. Founded in 1944, the Tisa factory has been rather well known since the Soviet era. Its establishment and rise is linked the activities of the local entrepreneur Yuliy Checknadi. Since the first days of its existence, Tisa has been producing furniture, skis and sledges. After the Zakarpattya region reunited with the rest of Ukraine in 1945, the June 29th crew was set up, which was later renamed as the Stalin crew. By the time 1947 came around, apart from furniture, the factory already made 50 thousand skis. In 1988, the production capacity enabled the factory to make 250 thousand cross-country skis and 10 thousand alpine skis.
The factory began its cooperation with the worldwide ski producer, Austria-based Fischer. The factory signed an agreement on licensed production of alpine and cross-country skis. In 1995, Fischer invested $5 million in a Ukrainian-Austrian joint venture based on the capital stock of the Tisa ski factory. Investments came in the form of equipment for ski production and partially of capital for the purchase of supplies. The Ukrainian party contributed its equipment and production facilities into the joint venture.
Prior to that, Fischer’s production facilities were limited to the Austrian town Ried. Those facilities are still in operation today, but the company has concentrated most of its production in Mukachevo. At the production planning stage, priority is given to utilizing the production capacity in Ukraine, not in Austria, CEO Vasyl Ryabych, who has been in charge of the factory since 1995, told 112.ua.
“Nowadays, production costs in Ukraine are lower than those in Western Europe, although insignificantly. The aim and expected result of any venture is to make profit”, - Ryabych admits.
The factory is commercially viable. It reinvests €2-4 million annually in the improvement of production capacities, labor safety and environmental initiatives. The factory employs a total of 1,200 workers, which makes it one of the largest employers in Mukachevo and part of the group of Ukraine’s largest taxpayers.
It is noteworthy that the economic crisis in Ukraine, which made it more feasible for Fischer to produce in Ukraine as opposed to Austria, also carries a negative impact. The company sells not more than 1% of its goods on the Ukrainian market. Buying ski equipment is luxury for Ukrainians, and the overwhelming majority of the local population cannot afford it, Ryabych admits.
An amateur ski enthusiast in Ukraine has to spend on average, between UAH3-7 thousand on a pair of skis.
As of today, apart from cross-country and alpine skis, the Ukrainian factory owned by Fischer also makes hockey sticks (under Fischer and TISA brands), ski boots, parts of composite materials for the machine-building industry. The production of running shoes is being organized as well. The goods are shipped to 43 countries of the world. Apart from the Fischer’s goods, the factory also fulfills orders from other corporations such as Scott Usa, Stöckli, Tecno Pro, Hagan, Rossignol, Alpina, Splitkein, Tecno.
Interesting fact: during the Soviet era of Tisa’s operation, skis were made of wood. This is the reason why the factory was built in the part of the country that is most densely covered by forests. Nowadays, wood makes up 3-5% of different types of skis. Moreover, the factory also produces goods with no wood at all in it, only with polymer components. It is reasonable for Fischer to utilize the production capacity in Zakarpattya due to the ease of transporting its goods to the European Union.