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BIRKENSTOCK Group – Immense Growth Thanks to Görlitz Location

From February 2019

The BIRKENSTOCK Group is showing rapid company and location growth. There are currently around 1000 employees working in Görlitz, making the location the largest in the entire group worldwide. The heart of the world-famous Birkenstock sandals, the anatomically shaped cork-latex footbed, is produced here. In the meantime, over 100,000 pairs of sandals and components are manufactured in Görlitz in three shifts every day.

The border location of the European city Görlitz/Zgorzelec also helps: the global brand benefits from the workforce on both sides of the border. In view of the strong growth, it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the need for qualified and motivated employees. The local workforce consists mainly of Germans and Poles who come from the region of the two border towns. Current investments are flowing into a new social building, which cost around 3 million euros (commissioning July 2019). For Sean Harris, Chief Administration Officer of the BIRKENSTOCK Group, this is an important signal to the region: “As one of the three largest and growing employers in the Görlitz area, Birkenstock has become an important stabilizing economic factor. We are aware of the responsibility that results from this. With the new building, we are not only upgrading our production location, but also consciously increasing our footprint in the region.” The fact is: no other location has benefited as much from the positive development of Germany’s largest shoe manufacturer in recent years than the BIRKENSTOCK plant in Görlitz.

In the last 18 months alone, the company has invested millions of euros in strengthening and expanding the plant. BIRKENSTOCK just opened a factory outlet in June 2017.

As one of the largest employers, BIRKENSTOCK is also involved in civic life. For example, the company is the main sponsor of the annual Europamarathon and also supports various youth teams in the region of its production sites.

New Central Laboratory near Görlitz

Only a few kilometers away from the Görlitz plant, the BIRKENSTOCK Group will also set up its new central chemical laboratory by the end of 2019. The plant in Bernstadt concentrates entirely on the manufacture of the so-called “components”. These are the shafts, buckles and rivets, for which mainly materials such as leather, textiles, metal and plastics are processed. Therefore, the need for laboratory capacities is particularly high here.

With the creation of its own chemical central laboratory, BIRKENSTOCK is taking a different approach in Europe, if not worldwide. Because the fact is: most global shoe brands have their products mainly manufactured in Southeast Asia. Most of the chemical analysis are usually carried out there as well. Not so at BIRKENSTOCK: the materials for the sandals are not only processed at our production sites in Germany, but will also be tested in the company’s own laboratory in Germany in the future. This is likely to be largely unique, at least in the dimensions in which production takes place – BIRKENSTOCK manufactured and sold around 25 million pairs of shoes last year. With the creation of its own laboratory capacities on a large scale, BIRKENSTOCK is broadening the value chain in the procurement area and at the same time setting an example against the business model of the European shoe industry, which is essentially based on the principle of contract manufacturing in low-wage countries, and all of the associated problems.

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