Ecco and Fagus Germany are setting up a common development and production site for shoe lasts in São João de Ver, in Portugal. The new joint venture is called “Fagus Portugal S.A.” and each company holds a 50 percent share of it. The two companies have been collaborating on the development and production of footwear lasts for more than 30 years.

The new state-of-the-art development and production facility is expected to be operational by the end of this year. Fagus Portugal is going to hire between 12 and 15 workers locally to ensure that production begins on schedule. The objective is to create 30 more jobs by 2018. Claus Topp from Fagus and Jakob Møller Hansen, Ecco's vice-president of research & development, will be jointly responsible for the daily operation of Fagus Portugal as joint managing directors.

Based at Alfeld and der Leine near Hanover, Fagus Germany will continue to work with other shoe companies. Declining to comment on the reasons for teaming up with Ecco on the Portuguese project, Topp told us that the new unit is designed to be closer to the manufacturing sites in Portugal, a country where shoe production has increased in the past five years. Ecco is one of the foreign companies that still have a factory in Portugal.

Fagus makes lasts also at plants in Thailand and Belarus. It continues to develop and produce lasts and moulds at its 104-year-old factory in Alfeld, which was designed by Walter Gropius, using steel and glass. It is a Unesco World Heritage monument because it is regarded as the first building of the kind conforming to a modern architectural style.