The second installment in our special on Bata communities past, present and future concerns the factory town knowns as Batadorp, located in the municipality of Best in the Netherlands.
Bata entered the Netherlands in 1922, but it wasn't until the 1930s that a factory was build in the country, by which point the company was already operating over 20 stores. The Batadorp facility opened for business in 1934 and has continuously produced footwear since. The location was originally chosen for its strategic location in between the Wilhelmina and Beatrix canals, as well its suburban location in relation to Eindhoven, which allowed for access to ample affordable land and abundant workforce.
Batadorp in the 1930s
The city, similar to most other Bata properties, was based on the template of its hometown of Zlin. Typical Bata homes were built for workers, with the notable absence of attics (which were common in the Netherlands) in order to encourage cleanliness and reduce clutter. At its peak there were 130 homes, a hairdresser, medical facilities and the customary sports teams and social clubs that would come with the company's presence. At this point, over 2,500 people were employed at the facility.
Late 20th century
The latter part of the 20th century would see substantial changes occurring in the area. Batadorp would be officially recognized as a village in 1978, obtaining its own post-code and would become immortalized with construction of a junction linking the A2/A58 motorways, which bears its name.
Commercially the local business would move away from retail as production moved to low cost countries in the far-east and focus on the production of safety shoes, now known as Bata Industrials. Gradually, housing was privatized and sold off, but the core factory compound remained the property of Bata Netherlands.
The factory was gradually modernized introducing some of the most most hi-tech automated manufacturing processes to keep competitive, but the community became less reliant on the Bata plant and more integrated into the local regional economy.
Batadorp in the 1990s
Since 2017 the Batadorp property has been given new life as a multi-purpose facility, housing the Bata Industrials factory, offices and warehouses in addition to a gym, offices, co-working space and retail facilites. In addition to the factory property, the village consists of 200 houses and over 500 inhabitants that proudly call Batadorp home.
The location today is excellent, as it is at the heart of the "Brainport Eindhoven" innovation region, which is the third most important economic zone in the Netherlands and a hub for tech companies.
Batadorp co-working spaces.
Restored and modernized facades and landscaping
The property is now owned and managed by Bata Heritage offering over 22,000 square meters of trendy and spacious leasable area. The property remains a beacon of entrepreneurship in the region and thanks to its redevelopment will remain a lively centre of activity for the foreseeable future. And who knows, with many small businesses calling the facility home, a few new Tomas Batas down the road!