Falke South Africa is a subsidiary of the German textile company, Falke KGaA, a fourth-generation family-owned business that was founded in 1895. Falke entered South Africa in 1974 when it established a carpet yarn factory in Atlantis. In the early 1980’s when the sock knitting business started to expand in Europe, they decided to follow suit in South Africa, a country much loved by the chairman, Franz Otto Falke.
Falke SA initially mainly made house brand socks for retailers, but when most of the apparel sourcing moved to China and Asia in the 2000s, they started focusing on building their own Falke brand.
His son, Franz Peter Falke, who succeeded him as chairman, also loves South Africa and the people here, says Falke SA CEO Martin Grobbelaar. Falke regularly visits the Cape, where he owns a wine farm in Stellenbosch.
“He has always been opposed to moving the manufacturing to the East, even though the options were there, because they felt that it was important that they make a contribution to the South African economy,” says Grobbelaar.
He had joined Falke in 2003 as a cost accountant and was soon appointed export manager when they started exporting to the US. After obtaining a BCom Honours degree in management accounting, he started his career at Pioneer foods, but joined Falke because he liked the approach of the former MD who interviewed him and the philosophy of the brand.
From 2006 onwards the export business started growing tremendously – from about 50 000 pairs exported to the US, to about 3.7-m to the US, New Zealand and recently Australia.
In 2009 Grobbelaar was appointed financial manager of Falke South Africa and in 2014 he became CEO. Since then their own Falke brand grew 50%, thanks to the passion of the team, he says.