Family business in its 5th Generation

Richard Hoffmans GmbH & Co. KG, established in 1899, is a privately run company in family ownership, and specialises in the finishing of cowhide leather. The medium-sized German company (from the Breyell district of Nettetal near Viersen on the Lower Rhine, North Rhine-Westphalia) with around 90 employees serves international premium clients, focussing on leather for bags (70%) and leather uppers for shoes (30%). We offer both wet blue and finished qualities of leather. The raw material – the best cattle and calf hides – originates exclusively from Europe.

The Richard Hoffmans leather factory specialises and has found a niche in quality products and luxury goods. Customers include leading fashion houses from France, Italy and the USA.

The company has been gold-rated by the “Leather Working Group”, an international affiliation of brands, chemicals suppliers and manufacturers. The Leather Working Group sets the highest standards for its members.

Production capacity: approx. 4000 m²/day (1000 hides/day)

Managing Director: Jutta Bergmans

Production Manager: Frank Kurstjens

  • 1858: The brothers Franz and Josef Hoffmans found a tannery in Schaag. Josef Hoffmans has four children with his wife Getrud, née Leimen: the sons Lorenz, later the owner of the company Franz and Josef Hoffmans, Heinrich, who founds the company Heinrich Hoffmans in Schaag in 1906, as well as a daughter, Christine. The youngest son Richard (* 8 March 1869) marries Sibilla Berten in 1894.

    1899: He founds the company Richard Hoffmans in Breyell at its current site in the premises of a former winery. The start is guaranteed by a weekly production of 24 hides of ‘harness leather’, i.e. vegetable-tanned hides for harnesses. The main sales areas are the Netherlands and the textiles industry in the Lower Rhine.

  • 1914: The profile of the young company changes with the start of the 1st World War. The customers from the Netherlands are lost. The company concentrates increasingly on leather manufacture.

    1922: Company becomes a private limited partnership. Richard and his son Josef Gerhard Hoffmans (* 20 August 1895) become general partners, and Sibilla Hoffmans becomes a limited Partner.

    The company survives inflation and drives its development forward. New machinery is bought.

    1932: A fire, caused by arson, completely destroys the company buildings. Rebuilding and expansion take place step by step.

    1933: Richard Hoffmans dies on 29 April. Josef Gerhard Hoffmans and his mother become general partners, and Maria Hoffmans becomes limited partner. The product range is expanded to include technical chrome tanned leather and coloured tanned leather.

  • 1937: Josef G. Hoffmans travels to the United States of America. The experiences gained during this voyage now determine the company profile and change it fundamentally.

    1952: Entry of the brothers Alfred and Ernst Hoffmans (*8 March 1932).

    The third generation sets a new course. The expansion of the company is accompanied by the development of new products

    • Finer leather for belts and leather goods
    • Vulcanised leather (for moulded soles of safety boots)

    and the improvement of production through the purchase of new machines.

  • 1959-1961: The construction of a new production building with 3000 sq. m. of workspace, primarily for finishing.

    Fashionable upper leather is included in the product range.

    1968: Josef Gerhard Hoffmans dies on 6 October. He held the office of mayor of the district of Breyell for 12 years and devoted time to local politics for almost forty years. Alfred and Ernst become general partners. Production is considerably expanded.

    1974: 75th anniversary of the company. The celebratory speech is held by Prof. Dr. Herfeld, the first trainee at Richard Hoffmans in 1925/26.

    Founding of Riholed – an international trading company.

    1975-1976: New laws on water pollution control require new investment.

    1978: The decision to discontinue the beamhouse is taken and carried out from 1980 to 1983.

    1979: A major fire destroys the old part of the company on 13 July. Just three months later, production recommences under difficult conditions. The new company building reflects the most up-to-date considerations. The building of the clarification plant launches the even more environmentally conscious production.

  • 1980-1983: Restructuring of the company: starting material for leather production is wet blue. New products and new markets are developed. In the following years particular attention is paid to developing infrastructure, focussing on training. Structural changes in the market demand rapid and flexible decisions by management.

    1988: Construction of a new warehouse.

    1989: 90th anniversary of the existence of the Richard Hoffmans company.

    When Jutta Hoffmans joins the company, Richard Hoffmans and the family become the fifth generation to work with the leather industry.

  • 1999: The company Richard Hoffmans celebrates its 100th anniversary. With progress, innovation and the most modern technology, it moves confidently into the new millennium.

    2000: The company presses ahead with production of leather for bags. Research and development concentrate on the requirement for high authenticity, the ability to produce large batches of easily processed leather consistently and on giving the natural product a natural look while meeting industrial Standards.

  • 2012: High tech meets leather: Lot tracing using RFID traceability, for traceability of the individual hides. A new laboratory with an area of over 60 sq. m. is set up.

    2013: Investment in the future continues in the 113th year of the company’s history. Hot water and steam production are converted to gas. Heat recovery boosts energy Efficiency.