Founded in 1971 in Hendaye, SOKOA, the French leader in office chairs and seating solutions, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
An anniversary marked by key moments, celebrated until June 2022 and which allows us to remember an exceptional collective and human adventure, built with solid values and a unifying project. It is also an opportunity to think about prospects and the future with resolution, humility and enthusiasm, and especially to thank those who have allowed SOKOA this unique journey and who still keep it alive today and contribute to its success every day.
In a Basque Country that continues to be largely rural, very little industrial and little job generator, a new spirit is blowing on the banks of the Bidasoa.
Citizens and activists, convinced that to decide their future it is best to take charge and write it down, allow Patxi NOBLIA to found SOKOA in Hendaye. The goal and ambition are clear: the creation of long-term and local jobs based on popular and local savings.
50 years later, what could be perceived as a utopia has become a dazzling reality and a true success. SOKOA is today the French leader and one of the European leaders in office chairs and seating solutions for professionals.
Faithful following our original values, we employ 260 people in Hendaye and 650 at the SOKOA Group level, mainly in France.
And from now on we design, produce and market well-being at work for thousands of people from the Basque Country.
SOKOA also remains an atypical, not to say unique, popular and local shareholder model. In the hands of more than 1,100 shareholders, of which almost 90% are individuals and none owns more than 2% of the company, the capital of the company is open to anyone who wishes to invest in a local company open to the world, combining wealth creation, equitable profit sharing and management transparency. This offers SOKOA the great luxury of reasoning and acting in the long term.
During this half-century, SOKOA has also known how to go beyond its profession and be an actor and stakeholder in local initiatives, always in this desire to feed the Basque Country and create jobs. These are all concrete manifestations of SOKOA's territorial anchoring: HERRIKOA for solidarity investment capital, LURZAINDIA and EUSKAL HERRIKOA LABORANTZA GANBARA for local and sustainable agriculture, I-ENER and ENARGIA for renewable energies or even ESTIA for education and research.
SOKOA with its rich past and strong culture, is committed to its second fiftieth anniversary. There are many advantages: a healthy company with strong foundations, loyal customers and partners, benevolent and plural shareholders, relevant market positioning and products, and abundant motivated talents. This leads us to have faith in the future of the company and to approach it with confidence and determination.
This is how SOKOA has just invested 4.5 million euros in new facilities, also in Hendaye, with the same purpose of generating long-term and local employment.
These 50 years are a privileged time to remember and say who we are, but also to set the course, choose where we want to go to continue the fantastic collective adventure that is SOKOA, in accordance with our historical values.
Elkar ! Together !
1971 - 1978
1971, creation of Sokoa
Collective, activist and human adventure with the aim of generating local and lasting employment based on popular and local savings. The philosophy is that to decide its future, the best thing is still to take it in hand and write it down.
His beginnings as a trader with a complementarity between the industrial Spanish Basque Country and the French Basque Country to allow commercial outlets, first in Iparralde (Northern Basque Country) and then in France.
27 partners, 24 individuals and 3 companies.
Head office, “Elkar” building in Hendaye
Creation of the subsidiary Collectivité Service in 1972, a distributor of Sokoa products in Bayonne and its surroundings.
1979 - 1981
Construction of the first workshop
Quickly specializing in the commercialization of professional seats, Sokoa invested in 1979 in the construction of a 1,500 m² workshop adjacent to the head office, to start an assembly of seats activity.
Creation of Herrikoa
In 1980 Sokoa created the solidarity investment capital company Herrikoa, with its same philosophy: to involve the greatest number (of inhabitants) in the economic development of its territory.
Herrikoa, of which Sokoa continues to be the main shareholder, is today the first capital partner of SMEs in the Basque Country and has contributed to the creation or maintenance of nearly 4,000 direct jobs supporting around 400 companies with close to 19 million invested in the territory, by relying on the savings of its 5,000 shareholders.
1982 - 1987
Creation of the upholstery workshop
New stage in the manufacturing process with the creation in 1982 of the Upholstery Workshop.
This activity is based on the artisan know-how of specialized seamstresses and upholsterers. The combination and mastery of the Upholstery and Assembly activities guarantees the quality of the finish of our seats.
Implementation of a Business Savings Plan (PEE) in 1983. It will allow all workers to participate in the capital of their company, based on an equitable profit-sharing agreement. Almost 40 years later, this equitable distribution of the company's results continues.
Sokoa gets over 50 employees.
1988 - 1996
New factory "Sokoberri"
The company is growing significantly and continuously and is now cramped in the original workshops.
In 1988, in the nearby industrial area, it acquired an abandoned cannery that it completely rehabilitated to bring together all its production units.
This new site is called "Sokoberri" (the new Sokoa in Basque). 5 successive expansion operations will achieve a total production area of 20 000 m².
Sokoa is the first seat manufacturer to use the C-Gex upholstery process.
Sokoa exceeds the milestone of 100,000 seats produced per year.
Launch of the emblematic Brio model.
In 1993, Sokoa gets over 100 employees.
1997 - 1998
Eurosit joins the Sokoa Group
Sokoa acquires the company Eurosit (Nevers, Nièvre) which then belonged to the Louvre Group, the Taittinger family. This company, whose positioning in direct sales to large accounts is complementary to that of Sokoa, will be one of the two pillars of the fledgling group, which will become one of the European leaders in professional seats.
Sokoa inaugurates here a key philosophy in the purchase of companies that join the Group: maintain jobs in the historical area of influence, maintain the brand, participation of employees in the capital of the company.
Launch of the iconic Eden executive chair.
Sokoa gets over 150 employees.
1999 - 2003
Algon joins the Sokoa Group
With the aim of consolidating control of its production chain, in 1999 Sokoa acquires the company Algon (Irún, Euskadi), a metal specialist.
ISO 9002 certification in 2000. This highlights the company's journey as an industrialist.
Subsequently, the company will obtain ISO 9001 certification in 2003. This confirms the relevance and effectiveness of a quality management system throughout the company.
Launch of the Maya swivel chair.
Sokoa exceeds the sales milestone of 30 million euros..
2004 - 2005
Sellex joins the Sokoa Group
This design furniture editor for collective facilities based in Irún, Euskadi (Spain), joins the Group in 2004 and open the doors to a new market, the contract.
That same year 2004, as part of its export development, Sokoa creates with its client and local partner a joint venture in Nigeria, in Lagos, Sokoa Chair Center.
The Wap collective seating model reaches 200,000 units..
After reaching and exceeding 40 million euros in sales, the financial crisis of 2008-2009 caused a sharp drop in activity of 20%. Despite this, the company is able to keep all jobs.
Sokoa becomes a benefactor since its creation in 2005 of the Euskal Herriko Laborantza Ganbara (EHLG) association, whose purpose is to contribute to the development of peasant and sustainable agriculture and to preserve rural and agricultural heritage.
2006 - 2009
Genexco joins the Sokoa Group
This office products manufacturer, based in Montbazon in Touraine, has expertise in sheet metal and metal tubes. Its integration into the Group in 2006 completes the offer of the Sokoa and Eurosit sales teams.
ISO 14001 Certification in 2006. This highlights the company's environmental performance.
Launch of the successful Tertio swivel chair.
Sokoa supports higher education in the Basque Country by becoming a founding member of the Estia Business Foundation (engineering school located in Bidart).
2010 - 2014
Sokoa is one of the 10 co-founders in 2011 of the ecological non-profit organization Valdelia. Its purpose is to manage the collection and treatment of furniture waste.
The company structures its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approach by relying from 2011 on the guidelines of l’ISO 26 000. The evaluations will define that Sokoa is at stage 4 in terms of CSR, at know "Exemplary".
Continuity of investments in the production tool with the implementation of the automatic cutting of fabrics and leather.
As of 2013, Sokoa becomes a shareholder and contributes to the development of Lurzaindia. Popular savings tool for the preservation of farmland, at the service of peasant agriculture.
2015 - 2017
In 2015, new expansion and acquisition of a 1,000 m² building, next to the main factory. It's Sokottiki (little Sokoa in Basque). An automated production unit is installed there to support the strong development and manufacturing for common spaces (soft seating) driven by the Mendi range.
Sokoa gets over 250 employees.
Sorec Solutions and Sorec Métal join the Sokoa Group
This custom-design layout specialist, based in La Charité-sur-Loire in Nièvre, helps to strengthen the positions of the Group's companies in the market for large direct accounts.
Support for Eusko, a complementary currency of the Basque Country, whose purpose is to promote exchanges between the economic agents of the territory.
2018 - 2021
In 2018 the milestone of 1 000 shareholders was exceeded.
Integration of the first robot with mesh welding. Sokoa manages to combine improving working conditions, increasing competitiveness and maintaining employment.
Launch of the iconic Klik range.
In 2018 and 2019, Sokoa marks its commitment to renewable energies by acquiring a stake in local companies I-Ener (green energy producer) and Enargia (green energy supplier).
The company expands its support for research and education eby participating in Estia's capital increase in 2020 in order to give it the means for its growth and its ambitions.
Acquisition in 2021 of the « Lekueder » building, again in the Joncaux area, in Hendaye.
Having successfully overcome the health and economic crisis of 2020-2021 maintaining all jobs despite a decrease in activity of almost 15% Sokoa, confident in its future, acquires a new industrial tool to support its future growth and now has 30 000 m² in facilities.