Adidas Speed Factories Bring Faster Shoe Making to Forefront
Adidas is looking to prove it is profitable to produce its footwear in developed, high-cost economies with new “Speedfactory”. Before the start of next fall, this facility, which covers over half a soccer field, will have 160 employees making 1,500 pairs of shoes daily, or more than 500,000 each year. The plant, located between Frankfurt and Munich, and one opening close to Atlanta this fall, will be the key to the effort of Adidas to catch up with Nike.
The factory replaces the manual gluing and stitching with the bonding and molding done with machines that churn out shoes in one day, versus two to three months in Vietnam and China. James Carnes, who is responsible for the company’s strategy, called the machine the biggest revolution in sneaker making history since manufacturing was moved to Asia, or even possibly since shoes for sports were first made.
The new factories use the same idea of H&M and Zara to move more quickly getting its shoes, jerseys and other goods from the sketchbooks of designers to the shelves at Adidas stores. The Germany-based company said that linking speed with customization is going to allow the company to sell more products at their full prize and keep its customers from shifting to rivals. Adidas used a Speedfactory prototype to make the Futurecraft Made for Germany running shoe a year ago that was a huge hit, with buyers setting up camp outside its stores to buy one of just 500 pairs for $293. The athletic shoe and apparel maker is betting it will be able to repeat its hype with similar shoes that are city-themed that will be made at the two Speedfactories. The citythemed shoes will first be for Paris and London this year, and Tokyo, Shanghai, Los Angeles and New York in 2018.