The Portuguese factory of Sioux, the German group best known for its comfortable moccasins, closed its doors a few weeks ago, filing for insolvency at the beginning of May. About 150 people at the factory, located in the area of Lousada, are affected by the decision, and some of them have been working at the site for more than 30 years. In the last days, some of the workers have been staging demonstrations in front of its premises to ensure that they will be adequately compensated for the loss of their jobs.
Three years ago, the Sioux group said that all the shoes that it was selling under a secondary brand, Grashopper, were made in Portugal to facilitate quick re-orders by retailers. Recently the facility was making about 50,000 pairs of shoes per year, representing around 8 percent of the group's total annual shoe production.
To justify its decision to stop making shoes in Portugal, Sioux pointed out that the share of shoes made at the plant had been decreasing over the past years, concentrating on their final assembly. The site became an independent operation a few years ago, producing shoes not only for Sioux but also for other brands and companies.
Lewin Berner, chief executive of Sioux, stated that structural changes and the digitalization of the industry made it necessary for the company to revamp its cost structure. He said that the retail sector is experiencing difficulties, which are then also passed on to suppliers.
The Sioux shoes that were made in Portugal will now be sourced from other production partners of the German group, primarily in India. Sioux has been sourcing shoes from India since 1972, and it has been working lately with two shoe manufacturers in the southern part of the country. With input from the Germany company, their quality standards have improved.
Sioux reported recently that its first quarter of this year was very positive, and that the sale of the coming autumn/winter 2019 collection has been in accordance with the company's expectations. The company does not want to publish detailed sales figures. However, it seems that they have gone down lately. The annual volume is said to have declined to around 600,000 pairs from one million pairs ten years ago, when Square Four Investments acquired Sioux.