Odlo Functional Sportswear – From The Lower Rhine To The Entire World

Anyone intensively engaged in sport will know Odlo. Even if they are not consciously aware of it, most European sportspeople, especially skiers, have functional underwear from Odlo in their wardrobe. This is because, in this segment, Odlo is the market leader. From modest beginnings in Norway in 1947, they have become an internationally active, innovative manufacturer of functional sportswear today. The company’s headquarters is in Switzerland. Up to two thirds of their articles are made in Europe, specifically in two factories in Portugal and Romania. However, the whole logistics operation is located on the Lower Rhine. The distribution centre is in Brüggen-Bracht, where all articles are stored and sent out worldwide. Odlo Logistik GmbH utilise more than 26,000 sqm of floor space over three levels in their modern warehouse and office building at Christenfeld, completed in 2014. Up to 90 per cent of the hall is already in use, but there are areas for expansion. 130 employees, many of them part-time and all with annual flexitime accounts for flexible working hours, smoothly take care of demanding tasks, with often seasonal variations in quantities. 3 million units across 37,000 product lines are stored, with the whole inventory turning over two to three times annually. That is around 7 million units in total. Three to four lorries arrive daily to deliver goods, five to six collect the packages each day. Since the quantities are spread throughout the year, there is not a huge amount of traffic.

The head of logistics is managing director Bernd Wolf. He planned the new building from the beginning and optimised all the processes. He can also explain why the distribution of functional sports underwear by a Swiss company with Norwegian roots takes place in the hill-less Lower Rhine. The Brüggen site has a 25-year history. The location in Brüggen was established when Odlo had their own warehouse in each of the countries where they were active. The proximity to the port of Rotterdam also played a part in this. When the management decided to consolidate the logistics, the Lower Rhine was chosen because Germany is the largest market. First, the Swiss and French markets were added, Austria in 2007 and, in 2008, the “rest of the world”. 80 per cent of the goods are sold in Europe, 20 per cent overseas, mostly in North America. Today, the movement of goods is paperless, with IT lying at the heart of logistics where between 500 and 4000 packages have to be handled every day. All products and all packages are provided with a barcode, along with every order. Online orders are also received in Brüggen. In the past year, E-commerce has increased by 70 per cent. Through IT, but also through well thought-out architecture with short pathways and packet sizes developed in-house for simple processing, Odlo have been able to halve costs in twelve years and increase efficiency. To do so, employees do not have to work on a piecework basis at all. There is hardly any fluctuation, but rather a lot of long-standing employees, including many women. Schoolchildren and students willingly come to help out during peak periods. 

The company’s name, Odlo, is formed from the initial letters of the Norwegian founder’s name: Odd Roar Lofterod. He was a sporty as well as an inventive person. He began in a factory for clothing machinery. With knitting machine know-how gained in this way, he set up on his own in 1946. When his son, Odd Roar Junior, was training with the youth squad for speed skating, he wanted to make sure that his son did not freeze. So he developed some training trousers made from Helanca stretch nylon fabric. They were a resounding success, and more and more wanted such Helanca trousers, too. In 1963, Lofterod developed a warm and elastic functional suit for cross-country skiers and speed skaters. The breakthrough came in 1964, when the Norwegian team wore the suit at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. Today, Odlo has a broad base. In 1973, the first fully synthetic sports underwear came onto the market. In 1987, Odd Roar Junior designed the Athletic Clothing System with its three layer principle. After the winter disciplines, Odlo began collections for running and outdoors in 1994. The constantly inventive company invests a lot in research and development. In 2006, one result of this was the ultra-light, three-dimensional knitted construction Cubic, for optimum body climate. Odlo has been internationally recognised for their product ideas on many occasions.

ODLO Logistik GmbH
Christenfeld 11a
D-41379 Brüggen – Bracht
Tel.: +49 2157 – 89 52-0


Version: October 2018