In the new year the iconic footwear brand will permanently close its factory in Normandy, which has been making Le Chameau boots since 1927. The company’s production facilities will be based in Casablanca, Morocco.
There has been disbelief and anger from the 55 employees at the Normandy factory, who will now be left jobless. More than 200 people assembled outside the gates of the factory and burnt tyres – another product for which Le Chameau is famous – as a form of protest.
The brand was bought by British firm Marwyn Management Partners in 2012, which remains the majority shareholder. Earlier this year, Marwyn announced that it had cut Le Chameau’s net losses from £18.9m in 2013 to £8.2m in 2014. The French press is speculating that the closure of the Normandy factory and move to Casablanca is another cost-cutting measure.
Le Chameau has had manufacturing facilities in Morocco since 1949, when founder Claude Chamot decided to expand. However, production of the handmade leather-lined boots has, up until now, always continued at the factory near Pont d’Ouilly, Normandy.
Furthermore, the footwear brand has always marketed heavily on the basis of its heritage, including the promotion of its artisanal factory in Normandy and the prestige of being “Made in France”. As a brand that claims it is “steeped in tradition”, the move to Casablanca is a monumental shift in the company’s history.