The Berkemann Group, which took over Marc Shoes four years ago, has decided to integrate the German brand more closely into its corporate structure to cut costs and develop synergies in back-office functions such as product development, purchasing, human relations, finance and IT with its two main brands of comfort shoes, Berkemann and Solidus.
To do this, Berkemann has decided to move all or most of Marc's operations from its head office in Hessisch-Oldendorf to its own office in Zeulenroda, which lies 400 km away, by June 2016 at the latest. It has already sent termination notices to seven of Marc's 32 employees. Two have found new jobs in the area. All but one of the others have agreed in principle to move to the new location, but some have expressed the wish to check first the legality of Berkemann's action.
Marc has been struggling to make a profit as its sales have failed to take off, in spite of various management changes, due in part to poor quality and deliveries. Its 10,000-square-meter head office is still too big for the company and too expensive to operate, and Berkemann has found a new tenant for it.
According to Bernd Hillen, the current chief executive of Marc, many of its problems, such as the low margins due to its medium-price positioning, stem from decisions made before Thomas Bauerfeind, the controlling shareholder of the Berkemann Group, took over the brand.
Hillen, who worked for many years at Birkenstock, wants to re-position Marc in a higher segment of the market, with a larger portion of the collection made in Europe in order to improve quality levels and to allow flash programs and faster deliveries. The collection should be more functional and the brand should again stand for high quality and good fitting, as in the past.
Elements of the new brand positioning will be shown at the Expo Riva Shuh fair on Lake Garda next month, where Marc will no longer have its own stand and instead will show together with Berkemann and Solidus.