Gabor – Highlights In The History Of The Company
1949 - 1959
Bernhard and Joachim Gabor found a shoe factory in Barmstedt near Hamburg. The first sewing machine, a Singer 34, is obtained in exchange for their father’s gold pocket watch. So-called “shoes for anyone” were the start but hardly a profitable business. They are sold in the immediate locality. California lasting is introduced from America as production can be carried out without elaborate machinery.
After a study trip to the USA Gabor becomes the first company in Germany to use a machine for prefinishing single soles (prefinished soles).
The first factory of its own is built in Barmstedt, (August-Christen-Straße). Word gets round about the excellent quality of the workmanship. Gabor Californias are the big sellers. Retailers offer payment in advance for supplies. Gabor breaks into the major league of classic shoe suppliers. With the presentation of the collection to the then Ringschuh [largest Austrian shoe trade association] cooperation with the buying and marketing groups begins.
The Californias are replaced by the Ago Ballerinas where past experience can be used. Production has risen to just under 200,000 pairs.
Gabor is the first company in Germany to use ready-made soles for the production of its Ago shoes. Something that the Americans had not yet risked doing.
Expansion: Factory II (Nappenhorn) is set up in Barmstedt - a very modern factory with ideal working and production conditions. Production can barely keep up with demand. The numbers of pairs is distributed on a quota system.
1960 - 1969
For the first time Gabor sells heels with steel lifts. Because of the level of its creative and technical standards the collection becomes increasingly popular. Gabor now goes to Austria and starts up production in Spittal an der Drau. The EFTA area is opened up from Austria.
The Gabor Vertriebsgesellschaft is founded in Zug to cater for the growing Swiss market.
Efficient mass-production enables Gabor to offer box calf court shoes at prices that were previously only possible for rind box shoes.
Factory I is built along the lines of Barmstedt II in Spittal and put into production. New foreign markets are opened up.
Shoe specialists from the USA and other industrialised countries visit Gabor to see its exemplary production methods. The foundation stone for the new company headquarters is laid in Rosenheim.
The year is overshadowed by the untimely death of the co-founder Bernhard Gabor. Rosenheim becomes the new base and company headquarters. 60 families relocate from Barmstedt to Rosenheim - an exodus the likes of which has never been seen before in the sector.
Expansion: Factory II is put into production in Spittal. Gabor’s reputation as a quality brand is consolidated. Its voluntary social benefits have already passed the one million mark. A subsidiary stitching plant is set up in Oldenburg/Holstein.
1970 - 1979
Gabor employs 1,700 staff, produces 18,000 shoes a day and supplies more than 5,000 specialist shoe outlets throughout Europe. The Gaby name becomes an independent brand for the youth market with the motto: Lots of shoe, lots of chic for little money.
The 100 million DM turnover mark is passed. With AnaNina, the predecessor to Gabor comfort, Gabor introduces a comfort programme to the market.
Expansion: Construction of a modern high bay warehouse in Spittal. In Iran the Gabor Iran Shoe Company is founded as a joint venture, a new production site is built and put into production. In 1974 it is officially opened.
Alongside Spittal and Lienz/East Tirol (1974) production is also now carried out in Villach. Gabor takes over the struggling Medicus business, thus saving 100 jobs.
A sales office is set up in America. It is based in the Empire State Building in New York.
Turnover exceeds the 200 million DM mark. More than 3,000 employees manufacture 25,000 pairs of shoes every working day. Startup of a modern high bay warehouse in Rosenheim.
Expansion: A new production and storage facility is put into operation. Udo Jürgens is the star guest at the staff celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the company.
1980 - 1989
Gabor takes over the American shoe retail chain Prague’s and thus gains a foothold in the American market. In Deutschlandsberg in Styria production of uppers is started in rented premises. The activities in Iran are suspended because of the overthrow of the government.
In Deutschlandsberg the factory completed and put into operation in 1981 is officially opened and the newly built office building in Switzerland occupied. Start of the fourth development phase in Rosenheim: the production hall is extended and connected to the high bay warehouse.
Gabor segments its range according to target groups. Lady Gabor becomes an independent product division with its own sales force. In Spittal on the initiative of Gabor the master craftsman training school for the shoe industry is founded. Imports from the far east flood the market with cheap shoes and cause problems for suppliers like Gabor. Gabor responds to this competitive pressure with “global sourcing”: components such as uppers are produced externally to order or sourced from cheaper countries.
Gabor trains more than 300 apprentices. Every tenth member of staff is a trainee. Great emphasis is placed on training as a long-term way of assuring a new generation of shoemakers.
The eastern European business built up via Austria almost comes to a standstill as a result of the lack of foreign currency. The sharp upward curve of the turnover makes a noticeable dip. The market forces the company to move more of its production abroad. Production of uppers is taken up in Portugal.
Gabor moves into the casual fashion market with Holly Jollys Relaxing Shoes. CAD technology is introduced into model development. The branch stitching plant in Lienz is closed.
1990 - 1999
69% of all women between 14 and 64 have heard of Gabor. That makes Gabor the brand with the highest degree of brand awareness among ladies’ shoe only suppliers.
The new factory in Silveiros/Portugal is put into operation, the management moves from Trofa to Silveiros. In Barmstedt the closure of the original factory is announced for 31 January 1992. In the 43 years of its existence exactly 29,724,168 pairs have been manufactured in Barmstedt.
Gabor is presented with the German Leather Goods award. The Spittal factory changes over to group working. Telecommunication by satellite arrives at Gabor. The first video conferences are introduced. Production is discontinued in Deutschlandsberg and the plant closed.
A section of the Rosenheim production hall is redesigned as a modern creative centre. With “Gaborella” a new product line for the cheaper end of the consumer market is introduced. The name is later changed to Gabor Sport. A decision is taken to change the form of the company from 1 January 1995 into an Aktiengesellschaft [public limited-liability company].
Gabor starts production operation in Slovakia. The foundation stone is laid for the new factory in Banovce that is officially put into operation in 1997. An additional production facility for uppers is set up in Liptovsky Mikulas.
Gabor withdraws from the US business. The Shop & Store Concept is implemented.
Gabor is now for men too: A gentlemen’s shoe collection is brought out on to the market. Gabor goes into the second half of the company’s first century with the highest turnover domestically (DM276.1 million), the highest turnover abroad (DM157.9 million) and the highest production in the company’s history (6.3 million pairs).
Gabor celebrates its 50th anniversary.
2000 - 2009
Gabor obtains the licence for Camel active footwear and grants a licence for Gabor bags.
Gabor suffers from the worst drop in consumer demand since the end of the war in Germany. Production capacities and cost structures are adjusted to the lack of orders, sample production is moved from Rosenheim to Spittal.
Gabor grants a licence for shoe care products. The production in Portugal is concentrated at the Silveiros site, Trofa is closed. A turnaround in order receipts becomes apparent.
Generation change. Joachim Gabor, co-founder of the company, hands over the company management to his son Achim and goes onto the Supervisory Board.
Gabor brings out a sophisticated design for different boot widths in the calf area that makes a great impact in the market.
Gabor enters the children’s shoe market.
Turnover exceeds €300 million for the first time (inc. licences). By the end of the year 400 Gabor shops are operating in the retail shoe trade.
Gabor takes over the Spanish shoe brand Snipe.
Gabor celebrates its 60th anniversary. In the 60 years Gabor has produced and sold a total of 233.9 million pairs of shoes.
Gabor opens shoe museum on the Landesgartenschau (State Garden Show) in Rosenheim.
With rollingsoft, Gabor launches the shoe with the foot rolling effect that improves the posture both when walking and when standing still.
Gabor grants a licence for slippers under the trade mark Gabor home.
Again Gabor wins the “TW-Studie Damenschuhe” (best ladies shoe brand, biggest growth potential).
The same year sees the death of co-founder and “shoemaker by passion” Joachim Gabor.