For those who haven't heard the news - Blundstones are making some big changes to their operations during 2007.
A large part of their manufacturing effort will be placed offshore in Thailand and India in order to take advantage of lower production costs in those countries. Some styles will still be made in Australia though. See http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,21069849-921,00.html for more of the story.
What does this mean for the loyal Blundstone buyers round the world? I guess time will tell. Blundstones, for some years, been importing some of their parts (such as steel toe caps) and some leathers and Blundstone management maintain that the move will not only allow them to remain cost competetive but also enable them to improve on the features of their boots at lower cost whilst maintaining the quality of their products.
Blundstones sales (which easily top a million pairs a year) have struggled domestically and internationally with cheaper imported boots.
However, people in the industry who have been dealing with the company for years have long bemoaned the lack of efficiency and slowness of supply they often encounter - often resulting in lost sales and switches of brand loyalty to competitors.
The industry perception is largely that this has often been due to the company producing more styles than they could comfortably manage with many 'small run' niche styles getting in the way of efficient mass production of the better selling lines in their Hobart, Tasmania, Aussie factory. An earlier culling of some of these styles and a better understanding of the opportunities presented by the iconic nature of their brand (and sheer brilliance of their traditional product compared to most of the competition) would maybe at least delayed the current draconian move.
Will the consumers care? Who can tell - in today's Global Village economy it will probably be no surprise that your 'Aussie' boots are made in India - after all, the 'Ugg Australia' brand has made a fortune for their US owners since they moved production to China but sold hard on the Aussie image (you can't actually buy Ugg Australia products in Australia - let's hope Blunnies don't ever go the same way)!
Which lines will be lost in the move offshore is yet to be confirmed but one thing is for sure - if you want to be sure of a genuine Aussie made Blundstone boot you'd better get your orders in soon!