Adidas plans to close robotic factories in Germany and the United States that it had installed to bring production closer to customers, assuring Monday that deploying part of that technology to Asia would be “more economical and flexible.”
The factories were part of a campaign by the German firm to meet the demand for faster deliveries in its main markets and to offset rising wages in Asia and higher shipping costs. It originally planned to create a global network of similar manufacturing plants.
The sportswear manufacturer did not provide details on why it will close the expensive facilities.
Adidas began in 2016 to mainly produce shoes made by robots in its “Speedfactory”, in the southern city of Ansbach, near its Bavarian headquarters, and opened another near Atlanta the following year.
Founded by German shoemaker Adi Dassler in 1949, Adidas has moved most of its production from Europe to Asia and now has more than 1 million factory workers with outsourced employees, particularly in China and Vietnam.
However, Adidas said Monday that production at its Ansbach and Atalanta factories would be suspended no later than April 2020, as it is focusing on the use of its pioneering technology to produce footwear at two of its suppliers in Asia.
Suppliers would use the new techniques to make a wider range of products, not just shoes, in a shorter production time, while Adidas continues to test manufacturing processes in the so-called adiLab, located in the German city of Scheinfeld.