Positive Signs from HAIX in Times of Crisis
HAIX® Schuhe GmbH has just published its figures for 2008. The current recession has not affected Europe’s leading manufacturing of professional footwear. HAIX® grew sales in all four quarters of 2008 and increased annual sales to 42.45 million, which is 5 percent more than forecasted for 2008. The company’s order books are also strikingly well-filled for 2009. HAIX® estimates that 2009 will bring almost double-digit growth.
And contrary to trends, the export business will be driving this growth – both in the other countries of the Euro zone as well as the dollar area. The shoe manufacturer is facing cutthroat competition in the US market for firefighting boots from American competitors and is currently in the top three. However, more importantly, the Mainburgers have already won over the largest, most-respected fire departments in the country such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix. In the security area, we count the New York State Police as one of our leading US customers. The market share for HAIX® is even greater in the Arabian world than in the US. For example, the Bavarian company is the supplier to the Quick Intervention Unit in Abu Dhabi, the mechanics of the Emirates Army, the Explosion Team in Abu Dhabi, the International Security Force Unit in Qatar and Civil Defense of the Saudi Kingdom.
By 2011, CEO Ewald Haimerl believes an average annual growth of eleven percent is possible due to the excellent market opportunities available. This would mean sales of around EUR 53 million – totaling approximately 700,000 pairs of shoes. This includes increased sales in the areas of forestry and hunting as well as gardening, landscaping, and occupational safety in Europe. HAIX® also sees increased demand from private customers who prefer HAIX® boots over established brands for various outdoor sports, especially hiking. HAIX® has never actively addressed this market. The HAIX® shoe brand is not listed with either the large purchasing associations or with the large chains. This segment is exclusively a direct business. The quality of HAIX® shoes, which themselves are the premium brands in professional use, is crucial for this target group. HAIX® achieves this level of quality because the company has consistently focused on the core competency of a shoe manufacturer: “We have intentionally not moved development or manufacturing to the Far East or transferred it to third parties,” explains Ewald Haimerl. HAIX® shoes are manufactured exclusively by HAIX® employees at two German facilities in Mainburg and Eppendorf (Saxony) as well as a third in Čakoveć, Croatia. Naturally, research & development also takes place in-house. This department maintains a permanent knowledge transfer with various universities and has a budget that does not include subcontractors in this regard: Over the past year, HAIX® spent approx. EUR 1.5 million in this sector.
Thanks to this company philosophy, HAIX® management has not only been able to go from subcontractor to the leading brand within a decade, but also to create and maintain qualified jobs in Germany and Europe. HAIX® has no interest in wage dumping and treats all of its employees in all locations equally – with the exception of the legal requirement, for example in Croatia, that requires employers to pay for an employee’s travel costs to work.
The same is also true for the new French subsidiary that will be opening in Strasbourg over the next few weeks. HAIX® relies on a mixed worldwide sales approach similar to what is common in the outerwear segment: HAIX® always relies on direct sales rather than an indirect distribution channel whenever the retail market cannot adequately support a region or market segment. For this reason, HAIX® will be opening a flagship store in “Disaster City” – the Texan training city for US firefighters – in addition to the outlet stores in Leipzig, Mainburg and Lexington. The Mainburgers want to expand this mixed sales approach. Above all, they want to focus on target groups who are so small that they are not adequately supported by specialized, established retailers; for example, in Europe this includes gardening and landscaping, hunting and forestry as well as specific target groups in occupational safety. This is a great side effect for HAIX®-specialized retailers. The flagship stores will ensure that the HAIX® brand becomes better known and more visible.
HAIX® is a producer of functional and innovative footwear. Our high-tech products fulfill the highest requirements regarding function, quality and design. HAIX® is committed to providing the market with the best footwear for the fire services, rescue and law enforcement industries. HAIX® is quality from Germany.