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Gerhard Pfeifer: Backing Business in Russia

Published: July 16, 2014 (Issue # 1820)



  • Gerhard Pfeifer remains optimistic about the Russian business climate.
    Photo: Bosch

  • A worker building washing machines in one of Boschs Russian plants.
    Photo: Bosch

Russia andGerman engineering company Bosch have had close ties since tsarist times, says Gerhard Pfeifer, president andCEO ofBosch Groups operations inRussia, Georgia andCIS countries.

He can say that again: the company first arrived inRussia in1904. Though it did not stick around inSoviet times, theengineering andelectronics giant came back toRussia in1993, opening its first factory inthe Saratov region onthe Volga River in1996.

Bosch has maintained asteady presence onthe countrys power tools, automotive components andhousehold appliances markets ever since, andnot fornothing: Boschs growth rate inRussia in2010 and2011 reached up to30 percent.

Growth has since slowed tohover around 10 to20 percent, but still far outstrips thenational average theRussian economy in2014 is struggling toavoid arecession.

I call it back tonormal, the53-year-old Pfeifer says modestly ofhis companys expansion during anexclusive interview with TheSt. Petersburg Times, held atthe companys new boiler plant inthe Volga city ofEngels inthe Saratov region earlier this month.

Theexorbitant growth in2011 was due inlarge part toa 156 million euros ($212 million) paycheck forBoschs work onthe main stage ofMoscows renovated Bolshoi Theater, a12-story-tall piece oftheatrical machinery.

But theatrics aside, Boschs products remain indemand inRussia, andneither aneconomic slowdown nor theruckus over Ukraine andthe threat ofWestern sanctions are slowing down its activity inRussia, Pfeifer said.

Bosch has invested 250 million euros inRussia so far, including inthree plants inSaratov anda joint venture with Siemens inSt. Petersburg making household appliances. Anautomotive components plant inSamara is slated toopen in2015, andall that ontop ofa 120-million-euro headquarters inKhimki, just outside Moscow.

Pfeifer animpeccably polite man with acalm gaze andoccasional flashes ofwry humor had no personal ties toRussia before coming here as Bosch supremo forthe region in2011. He speaks with Russians through aninterpreter, andhis wristwatch shows German time.

But thecompany is doing something right inRussia, andPfeifer sat down with TheSt. Petersburg Times totalk about why thecountrys business climate is not as bad as it may seem.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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