The Foot Factory
The Foot Factory is one of the nicest abandoned factories that we have ever seen. This high-end brand of socks and panty’s was established in 1819. They created the first children socks in 1926 and in 1966 they launched the first panty’s without a suspender belt. In the seventies it had +-1700 employees, but in 1999 it got afflicted by the heavy competition of low wage countries like Marocco. During 20 years the company had to make a dozen of social plans and saw it’s personnel shrinking day by day. This company produced 3500 pairs of socks daily with loss, this was only one third of the sold volume under it’s brand. The inheritants, three families, needed to sell the factory to an Italian company after a lack of profit. This shows the difficulty in the textile industry, since 2000 more than 25.000 people lost their jobs worldwide. Although it was difficult to find qualified personnel for this demanding activity, the average age of the staff was more then 50 years old. The management thinks this is the cause of the productivity drop and the loss. The shops still stay in France with hundreds of employees. The revenu of the brand is about 15 million Euros a year and the company would get profitable again after the closing of this fabric. They invested in new knitting machines to improve the quality of the products but the new machines suffered from operational problems. Since 2003 the management made 3 social plans before finally closing the historic site end of 2011 forever, so today it’s almost 8 years abandoned. A few people advised us not to go as there could be security. We arrived at the immense complex and saw a group of Dutch photographers wandering around the fence, but it was well protected with barbwire so they left. We didn’t give up and with some luck we found an entrance! We spent a few hours on the large site and we even didn’t see all buildings. On the other side of the road there was a building especially for parties of the company with a theater, but it was too dark inside to take pictures. We could have spent a whole afternoon here, but we had other locations on our planning. We entered the main production building and immediately noticed the advanced knitting machines with dolls legs and socks over them, those complex machines had a futuristic feel, the inventors must have been real geniuses. On the attic we have never seen so much socks left behind, probably enough pairs for everyone in the village. We were charmed by the retro publicity posters everywhere.