Founded way back in 1862, with its headquarters in Schwalmstadt (Hessen), Germany, Rohde has always tied its business activities to a philosophy of quality and comfort, which has led to it becoming one of the most famous and widely acclaimed brands around the world, with a presence in more than 18 countries and with more than 4 million pairs of footwear sold annually. Despite this, in recent years, the company entered a period of serious difficulty, which led to its eventual state of insolvency. Giving new life and impulse to the brand was Condor Trade, which took over the assets of Erich Rohde, setting up a new company, Rohde Shoes, a wholly owned subsidiary headed by CEO Renato Lo Presti.
Can you briefly explain the most recent events that led to Rohde becoming part of the Condor Trade ‘family’ and which relation the two companies have to one another?
Notwithstanding the strong brand image created over time and the loyalty of its consumers, at the end of 2016, Erich Rohde found itself in a state of insolvency. After initially making contact with the Italian company, M&A Oaklins Arietti, with a series of visits to Germany and meetings with the insolvency administrator and various consultants, we decided to buy out some of the company’s assets, in order to seize upon new opportunities for growth, with a historic brand as important and renowned as this one. This past March 6, in a very short amount of time, Condor Trade accordingly set up a new company – Rohde Shoes -, a wholly owned subsidiary, which bought out some of Erich Rohde’s assets (that is to say properties, machines, raw materials, finished products, and, above all, the brand), while Erich Rohde was put into liquidation. Instead, as far as the workforce is concerned, fifty employees coming from different departments of Erich Rohde were hired: from Design to Customer Service, and from Sales to Logistics.
What exactly made the acquisition of the Rohde brand important and strategic for you?
Rohde is an extremely well-known, well-established, and sought-out brand that is strategically important for us, because it allows us to be present on markets that we consider historical, not only with a Private Label product destined for large chains of distribution, but also with our own brand.
The Inblu brand, distributed and with a solid reputation in Eastern Europe and throughout all of the Mediterranean area, will accordingly be joined by the Rohde brand, which is quite well-known in Northwestern Europe. With this buy out, we will have a good coverage of all of the main European markets of reference.
Will you continue to follow the company’s traditional production practices or will substantial changes be made?
We will, of course, maintain the Rohde heritage and tradition, continuing to propose and produce all the items, which, over the years, have represented the Rohde brand on the market.
This, however, is only the start: we will also develop more “contemporary” collections, created for a modern and dynamic woman who is in search of comfort and quality; characteristics that have always defined the Rohde brand.
Important new changes will also be in store for the men’s collection, which will stand out for its bolder and younger look. We will then develop important synergies with the Group’s producers, which are capable of guaranteeing a higher level of quality and service. Finally, the production sites in Poland and Ukraine, as well as the great expertise in moulding polyurethane, will guarantee greater control in all phases of the production supply chain.
Which markets will you focus on the most?
In a first phase, our attention will be directed towards markets in which, historically speaking, the Rohde brand is renowned and more in demand, so Germany, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, and France. Once we have reorganized and restructured our sales network in these countries, we will then plan for a second phase of expansion in other markets.
Why do you believe exhibiting at next Expo Riva Schuh is important?
Expo Riva Schuh, just like theMicam, represent fairs of reference for the European footwear market. For this reason, we confirmed the presence of Rohde at Palazzo dei Congressi, where historically the brand has always proposed its new collections.
What are the goals you have set yourselves?
Among the main short-term goals is undoubtedly restoring the structural and financial equilibrium of the company, and resuming relations with suppliers and customers. Moreover, we believe it is essential to once again guarantee high quality standards in all phases of the company’s activities and production – from the creation of the collection to on-time deliveries -, in order to win back the complete trust of clientele. Instead, as far as long-term goals are concerned, these include the growth and development of the Rohde brand in synergy with all the companies belonging to the Condor Group.