100-year-old “Loints of Holland” crowns anniversary year with 5th generation taking office

100 years of shoes and 5 generations for a family business, exceptional

Sprang-Capelle, 8 October 2018 – ‘Fresh energy for the proven concept’ is the announcement made today by shoe company Loints of Holland during its anniversary celebration. Erik Klijsen and Vincent Kriek are welcoming Johan Klijsen and Ronald Klijsen to the management. Erik’s sons are the 5th generation to step into the organisation that celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. A very special occasion.

In the distribution hall, which has been transformed into a party location, Loints of Holland celebrated its 100th anniversary last weekend. Retail customers, agents and importers from all over the world are gathered. Nol Kleijngeld, Mayor of Waalwijk, spoke to the audience with praise. He congratulated all those that were present and in particular the freshly formed management.

Happiness in everyday walks
There are plenty of shoe brands all over the world. Yet, some of them manage to stand out from the others, as Loints of Holland does. This enables them to flourish between the big boys in the industry. “We enhance the well-being of our customers by making them aware in their everyday walks of a perfect walking comfort and their footprint on the earth, all of this enveloped in an exceptional design full of character. We make a difference as a company and as a shoe brand,” Erik Klijsen says with pride.

A family business, is that sustainable?
"The first generation builds up a business, the second generation develops the family business, and the third generation breaks off the family business," is a much heard statement, even to be found in various studies on family businesses. And yet, driven by the financial crisis, family businesses suddenly turned out to be the saviours of the Dutch economy. Not only in the Netherlands, but also worldwide, they know how to perform better. How does a shoe family from Brabant do that? Erik Klijsen: "Family succession has not been a goal in itself. We have concentrated on much more important things in the past 25 years, namely serving the customer with a special and good product".

Sustainable and responsible business has been the basis. Erik: “Having a long-term vision and dealing with this in a sustainable and responsible way together with our employees, customers, business contacts and so on and so forth is in the DNA of the company.” In addition to business operations, this sustainability also includes the products. Since the 1970s, long before the hype, the company has been very much aware of the environmental impact of the manufacturing of shoes. This sustainability has resulted in a healthy business that, thanks to its conscious choices, still operates in a niche of the market but also exports successfully to more than 20 countries, from Canada to Japan.

The secret of Loints of Holland
And yet, corporate responsibility and sustainability is not the only secret of Loints of Holland. “If I tell the secret, there’ll be nothing left for the 5th generation,” Erik says jokingly. According to him, the sustainable motive combined with the design and fit is the major distinguishing factor. It constantly proves to be a huge challenge to design collections in which an exceptional design full of character, perfect walking comfort and sustainability are in perfect harmony. “One thing should not be at the expense of the other; they should instead offer solutions for each other.” This results in unique collections that live longer than an impulsive trend, both in terms of design and service life.

Balancing for a 'Customer Lifetime Footprint' and 'Value' 
Quality at Loints of Holland stands for more than the traditional Dutch 'value for money'. Quality is one of the drivers behind Design, Comfort and Sustainability. High-quality developed shoes are first and foremost necessary for walking comfort. For example, to ensure that shoes continue to provide sufficient support and do not sag and deform on specific parts of the shoe. At the same time quality ensures that shoes last longer, the lifespan, and thus limit the impact on the environment. Loints of Holland thereby contributes to the well-being of people and nature.

"Many eco-labels, certificates and quality marks take the product as a starting point and we think that is a good first step. On the contrary, we look at the larger picture. Imagine reducing 50% of the ecological footprint of a shoe, which in itself is very good. But when this shoe ends up on the garbage after only one season, it has twice as big a footprint as when he goes for 4 seasons", says Erik. At Loints of Holland this is also called the 'Customer Lifetime Footprint', a self-invented concept inspired by the popular ‘Customer Lifetime Value’ principle.

Distinctive and well thought-out design
To extend that lifespan, not only quality is important. Because what makes quality when every year a different shoe is in fashion? "I know that this philosophy is with many people, unfortunately. Fortunately, many Loints fans stand out of this, they want a high-quality and well-thought-out design that follows the fashion conjunctures but does not take over every short-lived trend and thus puts itself out of the question at the next trend ". Loints of Holland thinks different: 'What is the use of a shoe that lasts a long time but is out of fashion after one season?' Or else: ‘What is the value of a thought-trough design that you have to throw away because of wear and tear?'. This view speaks, here is the balance between Design, Comfort and Sustainability a solution. Loints of Holland designs are not 'just' out of fashion, here thoughtful design offers a solution for the drive to be sustainable. This shows the atypical sustainability concept, exceptionally in the fashion industry. Loint's of Holland is there for the self-conscious consumer.

As a shoe company, don’t you want to sell as many shoes as possible? "Of course we want that, viewed from a commercial perspective". In addition, the ultimate goal of Loints of Holland is to give meaning by paying attention to the well-being of as many customers as possible. "Extending the existing fan club is the best way to go there. Loint's shoes are absolutely no disposable products".

In the footsteps of 4 generations
Both successors have gained extensive experience. Johan Klijsen (1988) has been active within Loints of Holland for some years, and previously worked in the automotive sector. Within Loints of Holland, Johan will be focussing on the technical and operational activities, including the production. All shoes are produced in-house. Johan sees his current commercial role as essential preparation: "It starts with the customer, who is central". As a wholesaler, this is not just the consumer, but also the various retailers. "I've had intensive contact with both of them over the past few years, I know what's important to them. I will take this knowledge with me in the future in the development and production of our shoes". Ronald Klijsen (1990) worked for various organisations via management agency Boer & Croon. He gained experience within Retail at e-commerce scale-up Bloomon and multinational Unilever, among others. Ronald will be focussing on the commercial side of the organisation. "My father has convinced us to first look around and learn from others before asking him to be allowed to work in the business. Through our experience in the various business sectors and departments, I trust to be prepared to meet a bright future with Loints of Holland, together with all our employees.” says Ronald. It was not a matter of course that a next generation takes over the baton. "They have convinced me that they really want this and are suitable for it. We then held very detailed discussions about how we see the future and how to organize it", says Erik.

In the new composition, Vincent Kriek will be replaced by the next generation and transfer his shares to Erik Klijsen. For the time being, the former co-owner will be staying on as commercial manager to support the newly formed management and to ensure a smooth transition. Erik Klijsen will take care of general matters and will for now remain closely involved in the technical and operational matters.

Regional, national and worldwide
The Klijsen family started in 1918 to make their own shoes. Since the 1970s under the brand name "Loints of Holland". In the Brabant region Langstraat, cradle of Dutch shoe production, the first shoes were produced and sold. Sales in the rest of the Netherlands followed quickly. Fourth generation, Erik Klijsen and Vincent Kriek, successfully introduced internationalization across the entire breadth of the organization. With exports all over the world and an their own factory in Hungary as a result. The head office, which houses the design department, the repair service and distribution with quality control, is still based in Sprang-Capelle in Brabant.

The extensive history of Loints of Holland was recorded in honour of the jubilee and published in books. Who wants to know more about this can keep an eye on the website and social media (Facebook & Instagram). Here, several digital parts of the book are published in the short term.