Author: Clodagh Norton

Feature Story
April 12, 2019

The future is bright

The 20/20 Europe team travelled to Germany to visit the state-of-the-art prescription lab in Braunschweig, which began production in June 2018.
Since the opening, the lab has increased its workforce, achieved its target to meet all European Rx orders, and attracted new business from opticians in Europe and further afield.  

\\ State-of-the-art lens and frame technology: Maui Jim’s Matte Titanium Collection

Maui Jim’s decision to extend their distribution facility in Braunschweig Germany with a state of the art prescription lab is confirmed as a major success by Hans-Jürgen Penzek, Vice President Europe, Maui Jim Sunglasses. Since the opening in June 2018, the lab has increased its workforce to 18, and expects to be working with an average output of 300 jobs per day by end of 2019. The company confirms that their service in Europe and Asia has been enhanced by the opening of the lab, and that new business has been achieved as a direct result of the excellence of the German standard of production.
According to Penzek, the lab is servicing all the European markets as well as Dubai, South Africa, Hong Kong and China. It has been designed to mirror the operations of the Peoria (Ill.) lab and staff have been trained alongside visiting technicians and experts from the US, which currently employs 100 production staff. “We realised that in the future the Peoria lab would run out of capacity and we had the choice of extending there or opening a new facility. With the central warehouse already established here in Germany, it made sense to build the lab over here to meet growing demand on this side of the globe.”

Hans-Juergen Penzek, Vice President Europe, Maui Jim Sunglasses

“One of the big steps for us with the new Rx lab is the much greater flexibility – should we need to we can easily switch and reroute the Rx products from Germany to the US or vice versa. We continue to see huge potential in Sun Rx…”

Hans-Jürgen Penzek,
Vice President Europe

\\ Maui Jim, Germany

The high quality of the work in the Peoria lab has also been carefully replicated. “We have also found a psychological impact here,” beyond the flexibility and faster speeds the lab is achieveing. “After the lab opened we got much positive feedback from existing customers in Europe and Asia. We also saw new interest from opticians who were not already working with us, on the basis of the opportunities we are providing through the new lab.” According to Penzek, this increase was beyond expectation. “We were overwhelmed by the feedback, which we have seen across the European territories as well as in Asia and this has had a direct effect on the lab in stepping up output and working closely with our colleagues in Peoria for training and support.”
Another advantage of the new organisation is that in the mid-term, costs will also be reduced, with lower costs for shipping. “We are also finding things are much easier for our customer services team as here in Europe we are working in the same or similar time zones,” adds Penzek.

“We wanted to start our production slowly and bring it up step by step…
the plan was to be able to ship all European orders from the German lab by end of 2018 and I can confirm we have achieved this.
The volume we are producing in Germany is 10% higher than we had originally forecasted…”

Hans-Jürgen Penzek,
Vice President Europe

In 2018, Maui Jim aimed to process prescription orders in as little as 24 hours at the new German lab. “We are delighted to achieve this with many orders,” confirms Penzek – who says this is the fastest turnaround available in the industry in Europe. “At least 40-45% of orders can be processed with this speed already; we are achieving just over the 24 hours where orders are arriving in the lab late in the day.”

\\ Lab interior, Maui Jim - Braunschweig, Germany

Maui Jim signs with Manchester United

Since the opening of the lab, Maui Jim has signed a 3 and a half year partnership with Manchester United in the UK. In a statement about the deal, Martijn van Eerde, Director, Marketing Europe, Maui Jim Sunglasses, told 2020EUROPE: “For Maui, this is a truly exciting new opportunity to take things to a different level.  No eyewear company has ever made an investment of this type in football in terms of partnering with a major club – and it gives us access to a whole new consumer base of over 800 million fans worldwide.”

“Our goal is to raise brand awareness and consideration. We expect significant growth in volumes in the years to come as a direct result of the Manchester United partnership and the opening of the new lab in Germany…”
Martijn van Eerde,
Director, Marketing Europe

As the Official Vision Partner of Manchester United FC, the company is involved in providing sunglasses and eyewear for all the teams, and for former players, the academy, management and employees. Maui Jim sunglasses are now available in the Old Trafford Megastore and outside the iconic stadium in a travelling pop-up store for key matches including two key dates this month, 24th (v. Man City) and 28th April 2019 (v. Chelsea).

\\ Maui Jim, Germany

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