The brand Corf-Bags is produced and distributed by the Offermann Handels GmbH & Co KG. This company is the successor of several companies founded by family Offermann. The family tradition goes back as far as 1842.
1842 Jacob Offermann starts a tannery
The family tradition begins with Jacob Offermann who is already mentioned as tanner in a notarial certification of 1838. In 1842 Jacob Offermann founded a small tannery in the center of Bensberg. At first he employed only a few workers, and he tanned the hides received from the surrounding farmers. As tanning agent the bark of oak trees was used.
1870 Start of the industrial production of leather
In 1870 Jacob Offermann together with his sons Friedrich junior and Jacob bought a new location outside of the village. This place offered more space for the future development.
Introduction of tanning with Chrome agents and drums
At the beginning of the 20th century the third generation, the sons of Friedrich junior developed the production to an industrial stage and created the Friedrich Offermann oHG, later called Friedrich Offermann & Söhne KG. Decisive factors of the development were the introduction of chrome tanning agents and the use of rotating drums. This way the time of the tanning process could be reduced from six weeks to two or three days, and the output increased correspondingly.
1922 Start of the production of leather goods and retail
In 1922 another son – Mathias – started a leather goods production in a little workshop in the city of Cologne. The goods were sold in an adjacent shop.
The first catalogue already presented a big collection of handbags, travel bags and accessories. It was a great advantage to be able to produce with leather of the own tannery, so that he could sell all products at very low prices.
Bags and cases made of leather
Today producers have to consider the measures accepted by the airlines as hand baggage. In former times the size of suitcases luggage was adjusted to the transportation in trains. So the so called "Kupeekoffer" (in English language "Compartment luggage") was adapted to the measures of the overhead compartments in railroad trains.
Zippers were not yet available. Therefore travel bags were closed with metal brackets which allowed a wide opening but also increased their weight considerably.
In order to meet the increase of sales in 1930 the production of leather bags was moved to a new building next to the tannery in Bensberg. The bigger space allowed to produce bags and suitcases on a bigger scale and to increase the turnover considerably.
Beginning with this date the Mathias Offermann company was conducted as a department of the Friedrich Offermann oHG, and the number of employees rose to more than 200. Great attention was payed to the qualification of the workers. Permanently apprentices were trained to become skilled craftsmen. Hubert Offermann – the youngest brother – took over as the head of business administration.
Bag Retail sale and distribution
Another brother – Wilhelm Offermann – took over the retail store in Cologne which he later on moved to one of the most famous retail sale locations in Germany, the Hohe Straße at Cologne.
Mathias Offermann was not only an excellent craftsman. He also understood to adjust the styles to the tendencies of the market. The bags created by him were sold in the leading shops of the German market, e.g. the famous KaDeWe department store in Berlin.
After the second World War the cooperation with the family owned tannery again was great advantage. The availability of leather was decisive for the quick growth. Already in 1948 the company was able to exhibit its products in New York.
Between 1950 and 1970 the production concentrated on luggage. A special leather suitcase developed by Mathias Offermann was a hit. At its peak the production reached more than 40,000 leather suitcases per year.
Internationalization of production and distribution
From 1965 onward the liberaliation of the world wide trade led to an increasing competition both for the tanning as well as the leather goods producing industries.
The end of the tannery
Rules for the protection of the environment required a lot of investments in installations for the cleaning of the waste water. These rules were only gradually introduced in other countries and resulted in a big disadvantage for german tanneries. Within a short period most of the german tanneries closed. Also the tannery of Offermann had to close in 1978.
Transfer of part of the leather goods production
The production of leather goods is very labour intensive. Thus the growing difference between wages in Germany and other countries was the reason that in 1973 part of the production was transferred first to Brazil and later to Asia.
However in the 4th generation Elisabeth and Hubert Friedrich could establish Offermann as a very successful brand. The leather bags were exported to USA, Japan, Hongkong, Singapur and other countries. In Japan, Hongkong and Singapur exclusive shops were opened which sold only suitcases, bags and accessories of Offermann.
2016 Start of the Corf bags online shop
In 2016 Hubert Friedrich Offermann decided to use the Offermann Handels GmbH & Co KG to establish Corf Bags as a new brand. The products should be distributed only by the existing shops in Düsseldorf and Bergisch Gladbach and a new online shop.
Corf was registered internationally as a new brand. The first three letters are derived from "corium" = leather in latin, and the last letter F is a reference to the previous generations. The Logo shows two knives which were used to clean the hides at a time when this was not yet done by machines.
Today Business bags, lady bags and accessories are in the focus of the collection. The shop in Düsseldorf is the "flagship store" which shows the full collection. Here as in the factory shop in Bergisch Gladbach you can find the full line and get any service you might need.
In recent years leather bags are distributed by traditional retailers, department stores and Internet shops. The success of a retail shop depends very much on the location, for which the rental fees have increased continuously. That’s why we decided to sell the Corf collection through our own shops and the Internet only. Thus we do not have to consider the margin third partners need to cover their cost of labour and rent, and we can offer our business bags, briefcases, lady bags and accessories at very favorable prices.
The products of the Corf collection are famous for the quality of the leather and the workmanship as well as the good design. Our bags are favorites of business men which look for top quality and perfect function, and ladies, who want to carry a fashionable bag they may also use in a second season. Our collection is completed by wallets and card cases as accessories.