A fleet of 50 fire trucks and a corresponding number of fire fighters were not enough to save a large storage building at Ecco’s factory facilities near Ayhudhya in Thailand, when fire broke out there April 1.
The fire ruined a storage building and along with it 400,000 pairs of shoes as well as Ecco Thailands entire stock of raw materials. Estimates place damage at around 100 and 200 million Danish Kroner.
Today, a little over three weeks after the fire, production at the factory near Ahuydhya is running at full speed with production in three shifts which keeps the operation running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Thailand factory is not the only Ecco factory running at full capacity. Ecco has its factories around the world doing the same in order to replace the shoes lost in the fire.
No shoes for charity
Shortly after the fire, before it was known that the flames completely destroyed almost everything, Ecco said that the shoes, which were still usable would be given to charity in developing countries.
But after searching the building,only a thousand pairs were deemed usable. Everything else was completely destroyed.
On the day after the fire it was clear to Ecco that they would have to focus on replacing the 400,000 pairs of shoes which comprised the shoe retailing giant’s entire autumn collection.
Just six hours after the fire was put out, factory management were busy ordering new raw materials.
“From day one our goal was to limit our production losses,” finance and administration director Laurids Jensen points out.
Over time and 24 hour days
Immediately after the fire, Ecco gathered a committee represented by people from Ecco facilities all over the world. Asia, Europe and of course company headquarters in Denmark were represented and the goal for the group was simple – to find out how the loss could be replaced. And so far the group has been successful.
“In three months we have caught up with the losses,” one of the organizers Jimmy Hollmann explains. Jimmy arrived in Thailand from Ecco’s the Danish headquarters a few days after the fire.
“At that time I thought it was impossible, but the workers didn’t. They just did it, and everybody was working so hard.”
The goal of replacing the burned shoes was achieved through overtime and keeping production going 24 hours a day. Most personnel receive training at the factories, so hiring fresh untrained manpower was not an option, thus existing workers was asked to put in the overtime.
Even though they have caught up in only three months, it is still a little late to get the Ecco shoes to the stores in time for Christmas shopping using traditional shipping.
Thus Ecco must rely on expensive air freight to make sure customers won’t be searching the shelves in vain for Ecco’s products.