FILE PHOTO: Prototypes of Futurecraft 3D shoes are depicted during a presentation of the first Adidas shoe from the new production process, Speedfactory in Berlin, Germany, September 21
BERLIN (Reuters ) – Adidas plans to close high-tech "robot" factories in Germany and the United States that they launched to bring production closer to customers, saying Monday that implementing some of the technology in Asia would be "more economical and flexible."
The adidas factories were part of a driving force to meet the demand for faster delivery of new styles to the main markets and to counter rising Asia wages and higher shipping costs. Originally, it planned a global network of similar factories.
The German sportswear company did not provide details on why it closed the facilities, which has proved expensive and difficult to extend the technology to various products.
Martin Shankland, Adidas' head of global operations, said the factories had helped the company improve its expertise in innovative manufacturing, but applying what they had learned with suppliers would be "more flexible and economical".
Adidas started manufacturing shoes largely of robots at its "Speedfactory" in the southern city of Ansbach near the Bavarian headquarters in 2016 and opened another near Atlanta in 2017.
Adidas was founded by German shoemaker Adi Dassler in 1949. moved most of its production from Europe to Asia and is now dependent on more than 1 million workers in contract factories, especially in China and Vietnam.
However, on Monday, Adidas said production at the two factories would be discontinued by April 2020, as it instead focuses on using the technologies they pioneered to produce shoes at two of Asia's suppliers.
The suppliers would use the techniques to create a wider range of products with short production time, not just running shoes, while Adidas continues to test production processes at the so-called adiLab site in Scheinfeld, Germany.
It said it would continue to collaborate with Oechsler, the German company operating the two factories, in other production areas, such as manufacturing soles for its resilient Boost shoes, soccer shoe soles and advanced 3D-printed soles.
Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alexander Smith