Remaining faithful to its DNA as a pioneer and innovator, the Lyon-based brand Babolat, specialised in racquet sports (tennis, padel and badminton) has decided to invest in a project that will ultimately enable the entirely automated production of sports shoes in France: the Advanced Shoe Factory (ASF 4.0).
Exactly one year after the laying of the first foundation stone in Ardoix (07), at the heart of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, ASF 4.0 inaugurated its production unit on Thursday 16 September 2021.
AN ALLIANCE “MADE IN FRANCE”
This ambitious relocation programme also involves two other big names in French sport: Salomon and Millet, the head offices of which, like Babolat, are located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. All three are shareholders of ASF 4.0, a subsidiary of the Chamatex Group, specialised in technical fabrics.
A truly collaborative project, “a match between individuals and directors willing to take risks to achieve a goal of innovation and relocation by combining the best of their expertise”, says Eric Babolat, CEO of the eponymous company.
The partnership between Babolat and Chamatex dates back to 2013, when both companies joined forces to develop the Matryx® technology, a patented ultra-light and resistant textile used on the upper of numerous Babolat shoe models.
RELOCATING FOR OPTIMISATION
The ASF 4.0 factory meets several clear objectives that are in line with Babolat’s strategy:
• Being as close as possible to European consumers and meeting their needs more quickly via a local production and logistics network;
• Being more flexible, with greater capacity to test innovations through smaller production runs;
• Being more environmentally friendly, with local production to minimise the carbon footprint;
• Continuing to improve performance to meet consumer expectations and demands.
SHOE EXPERTISE DEVELOPED WITH TOP PARTNERS
Created in 1875 in Lyon, Babolat is the oldest international brand specialised in racquet sports. With almost 150 years of experience and play observation, on the courtside and alongside players, Babolat has built up expertise that nowadays enables it to offer the very best and the most adapted in its entire product line. And notably when it comes to shoes, a category created in 2003. Babolat has worked with Michelin to design soles from the outset, given the extensive wear on racquet sports shoes due to the constant movement. Adherence, depending on the different court surfaces, whether tennis, padel or badminton, is also vital. It was therefore a logical choice to partner with the specialist in rubber wear and contact with the ground. Two years of R&D were needed at the time between the Babolat and Michelin teams to find the right balance and design the sole, as was also the case with Chamatex for the upper material (Matryx®). This technology was produced using robust materials: high-strength, non-elastic woven Kevlar and polyamide threads for optimum foot support.
ASF 4.0 represents another important milestone and a technology breakthrough for Babolat shoes in all its sports.