Company/ History

Company/ History

Located at Pousada de Saramagos, in the municipality of Vila Nova de Famalicão, Riopele is one of the oldest and most reputable companies in the Portuguese textile industry.

Starting as a small family business, Riopele evolved into a large-scale organization, vertically integrating the areas of spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing.

Today is one of the reference companies in the Portuguese textile sector and a major national export company. Riopele operates worldwide through a vast network of agents which allows the export of about 98% of its fashion fabrics production for clothing.

The company’s main markets are the USA, Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Britain. Riopele facilities cover a total area of 170 thousand square meters, being more than 139 square meters of covered surface.

The company’s production capacity exceeds seven hundred thousand meters of fabric per month.

Marked by a great determination in pursuing its objectives of growth and social responsibility, Riopele’s route is associated with the Oliveira family, to whom always belonged the sole control of the company.

The current administration is headed by José Alexandre de Oliveira, grandson of the founder.


  • 1927

    Located in Pousada de Saramagos, in the North of Portugal, Riopele is founded by José Dias de Oliveira, grandfather of the present Chairman. The factory is housed in a mill and begins as cotton's weaving.

  • 1933

    The factory moves to total new facilities close to the main road 206.

  • 1934

    José Dias de Oliveira registers the company as "Fábrica de Tecidos do Rio Pele".

  • 1935

    Riopele already has 120 employees and equipment consisting of 2.260 spindles and 49 mechanical looms.

  • 1938

    With the acquirement of the first calender, Riopele starts the finishing operations.

  • 1943

    In Oporto, José Dias de Oliveira opens a textile products store.

  • 1945

    The oldest son of José Dias de Oliveira - José da Costa Oliveira - begins regular work in the factory when he is 15 years old. Later José da Costa Oliveira succeeds his father and takes leadership of Riopele.

  • 1946

    There is a foundation of a society by quotas. Its first name is J. D'Oliveira, Lda., and later changes to J. D'Oliveira, Filhos, Lda.

  • 1953

    The death of José Dias de Oliveira. José da Costa Oliveira takes over the business.

  • 1958

    Riopele begins exportation to Nordic markets. Also in this year, the Games Park José Dias de Oliveira, located in Pousada de Saramagos, is inaugurated (the football team of Riopele's Workers Sport Club played in 1976 in the first division of the Portuguese league).

  • 1960

    Converted into a modern spinning factory with 10.000 spindles and 200 mechanical looms, Riopele becomes the first Portuguese textile factory responsible for the introduction of synthetic fibres. The production of Terylene begins but the main source of Riopele's success is the innovative generation of textile, especially the mix of 70% polyester and 30% viscose that is the trademark TEXLENE.

  • 1965

    The President of the Republic, Américo Tomás, inaugurates the new structures and also the complementary buildings. José da Costa Oliveira receives the distinction "Comenda de Mérito Industrial".

  • 1966

    The capital increases to 45.000 contos (225,000 Euros). The company's name - J. D'Oliveira, Filhos, Lda. - changes to Fábrica Têxtil Riopele, S.A.R.L.

  • 1969

    The company organizes the first Cycling Award that is named "Grande Prémio Riopele".

  • 1972

    With a capital amount of 220.000 contos (1,100.000 Euros) the company consolidates its export activity reaching a global dimension. The continuous investment in new technologies transforms Riopele into the European leader of synthetic fibre textiles. Riopele takes the 9th position in the ranking of Portuguese export companies.

  • 1974

    In the year of the Portuguese Revolution Riopele has about 4 thousand employees.

  • 1986

    Riopele's capital increases to 5 million contos (25 million Euros).

  • 1987

    Olifil - Têxteis, S.A., and Olicor are founded. The former is a very modern spinning factory with an annual production of thin wires of 2.100 tones. The latter is a sophisticated dyeing plant.

  • 1989

    Riopele is a partner and the founder of CITEVE - Centro Tecnológico das Indústrias Têxteis e do Vestuário de Portugal (Technological Center for the Textile and Clothing Industries of Portugal).

  • 1993

    Riopele begins the production of energy using the cogeneration system.

  • 1994

    With the collaboration of the designer Niki Bosch, Riopele reaches a new position. There is a continuous development of really innovative fashion textiles, such as: Çeramica, stretch fabrics, easy care and protection factor finishes.

  • 2000

    Riopele continues its expansion abroad with the acquirement of shares in Brazilian fashion stores. In this year the company also takes part in the foundation of the Oporto Business School.

  • 2001

    The death of José da Costa Oliveira (Chairman since 1953). Aníbal de Oliveira takes leadership. Riopele's products are unified by the trademark Riopele - Niki Bosch Design.

  • 2002

    Riopele celebrates 75 years and the centenary of the founder's birth.

  • 2006

    The collaboration with Niki Bosch ends and Riopele signs a partnership with Bonotto (an Italian company). Consequently, a new collection is developed - RB88. It is totally produced by Riopele as well as the Riopele Plus Collection.

  • 2007

    There is a new Administration, whose Chairman is José Alexandre de Oliveira, the founder's grandson.

  • 2012

    A new milestone in the history of Riopele, 85 years are completed.