ECCO Sko A/S is a Danish shoe manufacturer and retailer founded in 1963 by Karl Toosbuy, in Bredebro, Denmark. The company began with only the production of footwear, but has after expanded into leather production, as well as accessories and small leather goods. ECCO opened its first retail store in Denmark in 1982. ECCO products are sold in 88 countries at 3,060 ECCO shops and shop-in-shops, and at more than 14,000 sales points around the world. The company is family-owned and employs 19,800 people worldwide.
ECCO was established in 1963 by Karl Toosbuy in the small town of Bredebro in southern Denmark. Throughout the 1980s, the company expanded its operations internationally. By 1982, sales reached 1 million pairs of shoes annually. In order to accommodate the increasing demand, additional production was established in Portugal, and under licence in Japan and Cyprus. ECCO built its own research and design center, named "Futura", in Denmark in 1996, after 2009 Portugal is the R&D centre of ECCO and opened its own beamhouse in Indonesia and tannery in Thailand a few years later. In 1998 the first flagship retail store opened on Oxford Street, in London. By 2000, ECCO owned every step of the production process, from design and leather production to branded retail sales.
ECCO owns tanneries in the Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia and China. ECCO’s tanneries are among the leading manufacturers of leather to the fashion, sports, and car industries. ECCO has engaged in a research programme to reduce the environmental impact of the tanning process. Approximately eighty percent of ECCO's shoes are produced in its own shoe factories in Portugal, Slovakia, Thailand, Indonesia and China, and twenty percent under licence in a number of countries including Indonesia, China and India.
ECCO shoes and leather goods are sold in more than 90 countries. The company has its operations into markets in Asia and in Eastern and Central Europe, Canada, and the United States. Their products are sold through 1,100 mono-brand stores, as well as independent retailers and online sales.
In 1998, ECCO faced problems with a large quantity of shoes. Due to a production fault involving the composition of sole material a chemical process called hydrolysis caused the soles to disintegrate after only one to five years. After discovering the source of the problem, ECCO changed the composition of its sole material.