After five years of operations, the Italian footwear manufacturer, Geox is closing the footwear factory in Vranje, and 1,200 people are losing their jobs, former workers in this Italian company have confirmed for the Danas newspaper.
“The employers told us today that the factory is closing and that the machines are being packed,” says one of the workers who worked for Geox for the past five years, adding that “there will be more information in the coming days”. He also says that Prime Minister Ana Brnabić also knew about Geox’s decision to depart from Vranje, but she was not willing to reveal this information during her official visit to the south of Serbia.
Other workers the Danas daily contacted also confirmed the news that the factory is definitely closing. The same sources, who are close to the factory’s management, have confirmed that Geox would not relocate its production to Albania. Also, the Turkish textile company, Teklas, located in Vladičin Han, “is not interested in taking over Geox’s factory which will remain empty until further notice”.
The departure of the only foreign investor from Vranje started yesterday morning when Geox closed its outlet store in the town centre, following a clearance sale of shoes sold at the shop. Trainers that usually cost between 80 and 120 euros a pair, were sold for 2,000 to 5,000 dinars before the closure.
Geox opened the factory in Vranje in the winter of 2015 in the presence of the then Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. The Serbian government subsidized the Italian company with 9,000 euros per worker, and at the request of Geox, the state subsequently allocated additional funds to the company. A rough estimate shows that this cost the Serbian taxpayers between 12 and 14 million euros.
During that time, the Geox workers in Vranje, most of whom have considerable experience in the footwear industry, were working in rather inhumane working conditions, were not paid for their overtime and received meager salaries that ranged between 35,000 and 40,000 dinars.
This post is also available in: Italiano