Today, the company’s business falls into three major divisions. These are classic high-grade leather shoes, orthopedic and sports shoe wear, and handbags and leather goods. Still, the manufacture of the finest box calf leather for high-grade ladies’ and men’s shoes is the mainstay of the business.
“We are known for sourcing only the finest top-quality raw skins from the European Alpine region,” says Mr. Holubeck. “Our box calf leather is unique worldwide and is used by many premium labels such as Edward Green, John Lobb, Church (Prada Group), the Allan Edmonds Group and Johnston and Murphy. Tanning is a complex process which includes around 120 different steps. Thanks to our long history, we draw on expert knowledge and achieve top results.”
The company’s product range is unparalleled and ranges from box calf to canton and dragon calf, scotchgrain soft and Greenwich calf through to Milton, pony and Victoria Calf. The company’s product portfolio for orthopedic and sports shoes is unique, too, and boasts several special tannings.
Three years ago, Weinheimer Leder introduced a new type of leather. Olivvia is a new olive leather which meets the highest sustainability demands. “For Olivvia, we entered a cooperation with a partner focusing on tanning agents,” explains Mr. Knapp. “We use tanning agents which have been produced according to sustainability criteria only and the leaves of olive trees. This leather excels in added value as it is allergen-free (no metals used), which is important for the watch and wristband industry, for example.”
Another innovation of Weinheimer Leder is Das Lederband – the leather band. Around six months ago, the leather specialist founded a subsidiary with its own production, focusing on the manufacture of belts, accessories and pet products such as leashes.
“Here, we target the consumer market,” says Mr. Holubeck. “We are already enjoying great synergy effects between our two business fields. We see promising growth potential in this field and aim to enhance our activities here in the coming years. Our participation in the latest Interzoo in Nuremberg was a great success.”
Weinheimer Leder is a global player and achieves around 50% of its annual turnover through export activities. Europe is the company’s most important market, especially England, France and Italy. Further afield, North America and Asia each account for around 20% of the revenues. The remaining 10% comes from other countries.
In 2003, Weinheimer Leder was spun off from the Freudenberg Konzern, which had been founded in 1849. “Mr. Knapp and I had both been working for Freudenberg for several years,” says Mr. Holubeck. “As we believed in the foundation and the client base of the company, we decided to run the business. Also, we felt it was our responsibility to preserve the family tradition of making unique and top-quality box calf products. In fact, we had everything we needed: know-how, experts, loyal clients and a partnership with a producer in Danzig, the Kegar company. Yet, it was a challenge to move the production from its traditional location to a new location. We knew that the eyes of the international tanning world were on us. It took us three years, but we succeeded.”
Today, Weinheimer Leder has a staff of 16 and achieves an annual turnover of around 30 million EUR. “Last year was our best year ever,” says Mr. Knapp. “We reached our Freudenberg level.”
As the order books are full for 2016, Mr. Holubeck and Mr. Knapp are looking to the future with confidence. “In 2017, we will focus on our new tanning process, which opens up completely new application areas, such as the automotive sector,” says Mr. Knapp. “We are already involved in several projects for automotive interior products.”
“Most of our competitors belong to the big concerns of the luxury industry, for example, Gucci, Prada, Hèrmes or Louis Vuitton,” adds Mr. Holubeck. “Our goal is to stay within the family. We believe in service and flexibility, and would like to preserve these assets of our company. Our market needs innovations instead of clean operations.”