The Slovenia Times

Kočevje-based firm that knocks your socks off

Intersocks production in Kočevje. Photo: Jože Rehberger Ogrin

Intersocks, a company based in Kočevje in south Slovenia, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of sports technical socks, putting out two million pairs each year. Founded by a Dutchman, the company is constantly modernising production and planning to build an automated logistics centre in Kočevje.

Intersocks is part of the international Intersocks Group with branches in Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Poland.

The company was founded in 1979 by De Louis Hurwits. The Dutchman lived in Ljubljana with his wife but as a foreign citizen he was not allowed to start a company in Yugoslavia, so he founded one in Trieste.

The business opened its facilities in Kočevje in the early 1990s, which were at first used for packaging and distribution. In 2005 Intersocks moved its headquarters from Italy to Kočevje.

The company expanded its location in 2018 and has been manufacturing socks ever since.

The Kočevje branch mostly develops and manufactures socks for sports and leisure, said the branch's director Marjan Kočila.

"These are the so-called technical socks, they are functional socks where we use particular cuts and different materials to achieve the least stress on the legs," Kočila said. The company has also developed socks for the late Slovenian mountaineer and extreme skier Davo Karničar.

Intersocks headquarters in Kočevje. Photo: Jože Rehberger Ogrin

The company mostly develops and manufactures socks for top sports brands, such as Ortovox, Asics, Smartwool, Icebreaker, H/H, Jack Wolfskin and others. Intersocks helps brands design and manufacture a product, which the companies can then sell as their own.

Intersocks also has licensing agreements with some companies, allowing it to manufacture and sell Salomon, Nordica, Head and other socks directly to customers.

The group sells between 20 and 30 million socks yearly, of which around a half are manufactured in Kočevje and Italy. The most complex socks are manufactured in Italy and Kočevje, while the simpler designs are produced in partner firms in Pakistan and Turkey. All socks are then prepared for sale in Kočevje.

"This means we wash, iron and package them and then distribute them around the world," said Kočila

The Kočevje plant can manufacture two million socks per year, largely because of its modern plant and equipment.

"We have machines that are some sort of knitting robots," said Kočila, adding that the machine knits a sock from start to finish. "In layman's terms this means that you can take the sock off the machine and wear it," he said.

The plant is almost completely automated, so very few workers are needed in the knitting process. They mostly work to prepare socks for distribution. Intersocks is one of the larger employers in the region, employing around 200 workers in Kočevje.

The socks are exported to 63 countries, notably 20% to Switzerland, 13% to the Dutch and 12% to the German market. Three quarters of the revenue is generated in Europe, followed by the US, Canada and Australia.

The Kočevje branch posted €62.6 million in revenue and €4.2 million in net profit in 2022.

Intersocks are a leading sock manufacturer both in terms of production and sales. "We can certainly compete with the best in the world," said Kočila.

Intersocks, Kočevje. Photo: Jože Rehberger Ogrin

The company is planning to update its logistics with a €10 million worth investment to build an automated and robotic high-bay warehouse near the Kočevje plant.

"We will be able to deliver products to customers faster, the inventory turnover will be faster, thus making us more cost-effective," said Kočila, adding that this will open possibilities to work with online retailers.

With the new centre Intersocks' products will no longer need to be shipped to central warehouses in different countries and then distributed to stores. A store will be able to order socks through a special system and then receive them directly from Kočevje.

The Kočevje Intersocks also distributes Crocs products in Slovenia and in some Eastern Europe and Balkans markets, directly supplying more than 1,000 stores. It also owns 30 mono-brand Crocs stores.

The Intersocks group owns the Athletes Foot brand and the online store for sports footwear AsphaltGold.


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