The world famous Danish shoe manufacturer this April celebrates its 50th Anniversary and while ECCO pays tribute to five decades of innovative shoemaking, the company also turns to its Scandinavian heritage in order to meet the demands of tomorrow
There is a saying that the future comes one day at a time. Reality is that footwear has become an industry on the move and ECCO, the world’s second largest manufacturer of casual footwear, is turning to its heritage to stay ahead of competition.
“We see the changes around us every day and recognise that ECCO has an inherited obligation to stay competitive and innovative; five decades of shoemaking obliges,” says Michael Hauge Sørensen, Chief Operating Officer, who has headed the company’s impressive growth during the past two years.
ECCO was founded in 1963 and more than 350 million pairs of ECCO shoes have since then left their mark around the world. Shoes anchored in a heritage of functionality, quality and craftsmanship on the platform of Scandinavian design.
Each pair of ECCO shoes are touched by 210 pairs of hands before they reach the consumer; 20,000 employees taking pride in being quality shoemakers.
From humble beginnings to market leader
ECCO is rooted in a small kingdom not much bigger than the New York Metropolitan Area. From here the Danish shoe company has reached a significant position as market leader in China, Scandinavia, Germany and Russia, and in the USA.
“ECCO entered the USA only 23 years ago. Today it’s our biggest single market with tremendous potential for further growth. The domestic market of Denmark is very small so early in our history we were prompted to look overseas for growth,” says Michael Hauge Sørensen.
Also the rapidly growing Chinese market has become an important stronghold for ECCO. Closing in on 800 shops in more than 200 big Chinese cities across all the 31 provinces ECCO continues to expand its position as a leading premium brand.
Add to this a significant market position across Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, ECCO has a healthy geographical spread that has proven its case not least through the financial crisis and general economic turmoil of the past four years. In spite of this ECCO has doubled its revenues during the past seven years.
“Our well-balanced market geography along with our enduring family ownership provides ECCO with unparalleled staying power in such times of unrest,” says Michael Hauge Sørensen.
Ready for tomorrow
ECCO’s founder, the Danish shoemaker Karl Toosbuy, broke with industry tradition when he decided that the shoe must follow the foot – not the other way around. ECCO brought to the market shoes of unprecedented comfort. Today the comfort is combined with the functionality, simplicity and beauty of Scandinavian design.
The shoe industry is globally sailing through rough seas and the major brands are investing heavily in market and consumer oriented activities. High on the agenda is that consumer demand requires a tighter integration between e-commerce and traditional stores.
“We are shoemakers at heart, and with over 4,000 branded sales locations in more than 90 countries we are, of course, also a large retailer. This is a business model that provides ECCO with two strong platforms in our quest to become the best shoe company in the world. While never compromising on quality shoemaking we increasingly turn our attention to consumer demands and needs,” says Michael Hauge Sørensen.
ECCO is responding with significant investments and activities in online channels as well as improved shopping experiences wherever and whenever you encounter the ECCO brand. In 2012 ECCO invested more than $112 million across the company.
“Faster than ever before new designs and ideas are launched in the shoe industry. And more than ever consumers expect to have access to the shoes immediately. With consumers increasingly being spoiled for choice, ECCO is taking on the challenge of also creating thrill and exciting shopping experiences,”
Turn on the passion
Today ECCO is the only major shoe manufacturer in the world to own and manage every step of the shoemaking process; from tanneries to stores. Being in control of the value chain has always been a hallmark of this Denmark headquartered company. This provides ECCO with unrivalled control of product quality as well as the quality of all production processes and their social and environmental impact.
2013 is the year that ECCO celebrates and turns the passion of 20,000 employees worldwide to meet the demands of the future; on the platform of its heritage.
“Throughout our history of 50 years with shoes, we have never lost sight of functionality, quality, craftsmanship or innovation. That is the heritage that we will also build on to meet the demands of tomorrow. And with our passion to build the best shoe company in the world, we will continue to control our own destiny in an ever-changing world,” says Michael Hauge Sørensen.
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