Madeira's origins date back to 1919, when Burkhardt & Schmidt Garnfabrik was founded in Freiburg, Germany. The company successfully became the first choice for embroiderers due to its strong innovation and quality-oriented leadership. As international markets beckoned, following the revolution of industrial flatbed embroidery machines, a company name more resonant and fitting to the beautiful threads was sought. Since 1975, the Madeira brand has stood for exquisite embroidery and has gained global recognition. Nowadays, approximately 70% of the threads sold are produced at the headquarters in Germany, using modern and sustainable technologies.
MADEIRA Our story
Madeira is a family-owned group of companies with its headquarters and production site in Freiburg, Germany. Madeira was established in 1919 under the name Burkhardt & Schmidt Garnfabrik. Originally, the company Burkhardt & Schmidt produced cotton sewing threads. Later, the company started to produce cotton embroidery threads as well.
At the end of the 1950s, the son of the company's founder, Rudi Schmidt, had the idea to develop a machine embroidery thread made from viscose. His vision was to embody the lustre and shine of viscose in a thread for machine embroidery. In order to achieve this, a new kind of thread had to be developed, as at that time, viscose was only used in the production of exclusive fabrics.
In the 60s, the company continued to research and develop technologies for the production of viscose thread, as this raw material proved to be ideal for machine embroidery. Even today, there is no other embroidery thread with comparable lustre and softness. The company perfected its machine embroidery thread made of viscose and called it "Madeira No. 40". Madeira was the first company worldwide to successfully launch high quality embroidery thread made from 100% pure viscose for the commercial embroidery industry.
In 1975, the Burkhardt & Schmidt Garnfabrik changed its name to Madeira Garnfabrik after its machine embroidery thread "Madeira No.40" that had since became famous worldwide. The name derives from the Portuguese island Madeira, which is known for its famous embroideries. In former times, embroidered artworks from this island were exported to Oriental and European royal dynasties.
The company shifted into the third generation. The twin brothers Michael and Ulrich Schmidt are still running the company today. They developed Madeira to be a global player with several subsidiaries around the world.
Madeira developed "Neon", the first polyester embroidery thread, to offer neon signal colors, e.g. for safety jackets. Later on, the colour range of "Neon" was extended and the thread was renamed as "Polyneon", the polyester embroidery thread for textiles under high stress and clothes that are washed frequently.
Madeira's development brought new products, and it became a leading manufacturer of high quality embroidery and special effect threads in the 80s, complementing the market with a unique variety of different embroidery threads as well as metallic threads such as "FS 40" or "Supertwist", the haute couture sparkling thread.
During that time, the Schmidt brothers modernised, expanded and developed the production site in Freiburg. Today, Madeira is one of the most modern and efficient thread manufacturing companies in the world and runs one of the most high-tech and sustainable thread dye houses in Germany.
Today, the Madeira Group is a family-owned global player with 400 employees around the world and several subsidiaries in Europe, the USA and Asia. The headquarters with its production plant is still located in Freiburg, Germany.