CCC’s fortune in footwear: Profiling the largest footwear manufacturer in Europe
CEO Dariusz Miłek tells the story of CCC; from its streetmarket origins, to becoming the largest footwear shop network in Central Europe
CCC is Central Europe’s largest footwear shop network. The company operates over 900 stores, from Germany to Russia, with manufacturing facilities in China, Bangladesh, India, and at its headquarters in Polkowice in Poland. CEO Dariusz Miłek founded CCC in 1999, but its real origins date 10 years earlier, to when he was selling shoes from a campbed in Lubin market. He tells the story of its origins, growth, and ambitions for the future. This video is in English and Polish, with English subtitles for the latter.
Dariusz Miłek: In the beginning I tried to trade everything – socks, watches, coats, jeans – but shoes started bringing the best profits, so I stayed with them until now.
I traded mostly shoes from import and independent Polish factories on the bazaars, then I started a network of shops, then I moved on to wholesale, then I started a chain of my own wholesale warehouses, then I opened a network of stores, and only then I got to think about production when I was running out of sourcing options.
We started with one office and warehouse, and today it’s all 10 times bigger. We keep on expanding it all.
We sell 200,000 pairs of footwear a day; we are growing 40 percent a year.
European CEO: CCC is Central Europe’s largest footwear shop network. The company operates over 900 stores, from Germany to Russia, with manufacturing facilities in China, Bangladesh, India, and here at its headquarters in Polkowice in Poland.
CEO Dariusz Miłek founded CCC in 1999, but its real origins date 10 years earlier, when he was selling shoes from a campbed in Lubin market.
Dariusz Miłek: What my day looked like? Well, it was difficult – I started very early, as I had to fight for a good stand at the bazaar every day. The merchants arrived early at dawn, and obviously a good spot translated later into success in commerce. I traded until late evening, then packed everything and went back home. It was much more difficult than now.
In order to speed up my small business I decided that if I traded on two, three, four stands, then it will grow faster, and so it happened: I started hiring people and setting up more camp-beds on which we traded. Later we moved on to so-called ‘jaws’ – stationary foldable containers, thanks to which I didn’t have to fight for a good spot every morning. And soon I would end up controlling over a dozen of those on a single bazaar, all of them selling footwear.
European CEO: Today CCC has become one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers. And as Dariusz’ business has transformed, so has the industry.
In 1988 everything sold, in 1999 price was key, and today you have to create collections – you need fashion, price, quality, everything combined. The competition is tough.
It changes every year. Everything’s changed, nothing’s like it used to be, and everything will be different in a few years. Right now the company is in the course of fundamental changes – we are changing the product, packaging, store concept, management tools, IT – everything’s changing. If we want to be the leader on a couple European markets, then we need to follow trends, keep constantly evolving.
We’re building something all the time, improving something, expanding. All the time there is something to do.
European CEO: CCC’s headquarters are certainly busy. From its design team keeping ahead of footwear fashions, to its fully automated logistics centre – the largest of its kind in Europe. And right now the company is building a new research and development facility, for everything from creating new materials, to understanding better how customers navigate its stores. There’s plenty for CCC to do to secure its future; and for its CEO:
Dariusz Miłek: Work work work.
I think that the future for us is bright, because as of today we’re the only concept of this size in Europe, if not the world, which keeps growing so dynamically and improving. So I can see a big potential in this.
We expand in every segment. In our own retail, in our own e-commerce, and we’ll also develop the international label e-commerce. We’ll increase sales wherever it’s possible.
Business means constantly competing, and that’s what fuels me to work. It’s hard to win against somebody who has passion.