We present: Shoemakers since 1734
Image source: Floris van Bommel
We present: Shoemakers since 1734
Floris van Bommel International B.V.
In our B.I.P. GmbH blog we shall be presenting a loosely connected series featuring some of our clients. Today it is the design shoe label Floris van Bommel International B.V. from Moergestel in the Netherlands. B.I.P GmbH serves all five of the brand's stores in major German cities by providing HR facilities.
In family hands for nine generations
Shoe collections which sparkle with creativity, individuality and the unexpected are the trademark of the ‘Floris van Bommel’ design shoe label. The man who gives his name to the label, the middle brother of three, comes from a family of shoemakers for nine generations. The classic ‘Van Bommel’ shoe label was founded as early as 1734 in Breda, Netherlands, and today still stands for hand-made and high-quality classic men's shoes. Knowledge and experience were passed down from each father to son, and thus the business has remained in family hands even until now. In 1952 the Queen of the Netherlands made the ‘Van Bommel’ label a supplier to the Dutch Court by royal appointment.
Adapting the business to the needs of the time
"When people look on tradition not as an end, but as a starting point, they are taking an immense step forward. Traditions show us the way. But they are certainly not the way itself!" says Floris van Bommel, explaining his brand's recipe for success. The brothers run the show manufacturer as a trio: Reynier van Bommel, the eldest, is chairman of the board, in charge of strategy and finance. Floris van Bommel is responsible for design and marketing. The youngest brother, Pepijn van Bommel, runs sales and marketing. Since 1734, each generation has had the task of adapting the business to the needs of each epoch and period.
Into the new millennium with the ‘Floris van Bommel’ second line
When it came the time to enter the third millennium, this task fell to Floris von Bommel in his capacity as creative director. Before he joined the family firm at the age of 24 in 1999, having graduated in fashion management and taken traineeships abroad in the European shoe industry, a second line, named after him, had already been in existence for three years. His father Frans had realised that this traditional firm, with its premium classics from its main collection, would not enjoy significant growth long-term. So, as early as 1996, he launched a second line named after his son Floris, to create scope for the development of a new direction in the firm and a transition to a new succeeding generation.
‘Floris van Bommel’ main collection has the highest sales
Meanwhile the ‘Floris van Bommel’ brand has grown into the main collection with the highest share of sales at the shoemaking firm. Radiating an exciting presence and expertise, its commercial and stylistic importance is undisputed through the multiple awards which it has achieved in individual markets. Floris himself is the creative soul of the brand, full of vitality, humour, easiness and inspiration. "If I had to name a trend, it is authenticity. For me, trends are of secondary importance. I believe only in brands and collections which build on their own identity and do not feel forced to follow fashionable trends...", says Floris.
Hand-written messages and strongly-pictured advertising campaigns
For a shoe he uses a large number of high-quality materials and leather from Italy, which makes it impossible for the growing number of copies to be really a copy. The resources needed for such production are simply too high. Or the soles: he marks them with dedications, provides picture puzzles, and reproduces personal drawings. Mostly hand-written details as a direct message to his customers, who in this way build up an emotional relationship to the brand. There is an emotional charge to the advertising campaigns, too, which over the years have developed contemporaneously and continually with the person, the company and the collection. There have been joint campaigns with footballer Philipp Lahm or with actor Daniel Brühl. Marketing campaigns featuring musicians such as the Belgians Ozark Henry and Textures or the New York singer-songwriter Jay Brannan. Since 2012 a strongly pictorial series has pervaded the publicity, showing Floris alone, sometimes in remote regions such as Alaska, Ethiopia, Canada, Mongolia or Tanzania.
The challenge of the pandemic: damage limitation and survival
Even a dazzling company such as ‘Floris van Bommel’ has had to cope with the coronavirus crisis, and still must. On 8 April 2020, in an interview with schuhkurier*, CEO Reynier van Bommel explained how the brand was showing its strength during the pandemic and why the business decisions taken in these weeks have been and are particularly important. "We have always worked constantly on being as creative and original as possible. We have invested and built things up in order to be ever better and stronger. Now suddenly we have a completely new outlook. The task is one of survival, of damage limitation and of the welfare of our own people here and of those in our supply chain", he says.
Getting safely through the coronavirus crisis with B.I.P. GmbH as a partner
B.I.P. GmbH has been close at the company's side – during the crisis, as at other times – and has advised ‘Floris van Bommel International B.V.’ continually during the shutdown with regard to its five German brand stores, supporting them with its accumulated HR expertise, to include complex questions such as short time. The costs thus saved and the fact that the family firm already practised solid commercial management before the crisis now make it possible, as soon as the economy fires up again, to present and supply new collections – for, says Reynier, "It is exactly in times like these that you need to show you are a solid business partner."
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by Martina Tangara