At the end of the 1970's, there were only two briar pipe factories in the Benelux countries: Gubbels in the Netherlands and Hillen in Bree, Belgium. When the latter encountered major financial difficulties in 1980, Gubbels bought the company together with its brand Hilson - a well established brand, which was selling better on the most important German market than Gubbels' mainstay Big Ben. The factory in Bree was closed soon, so Gubbels is presently the only briar pipe producer in the Benelux countries. (Exept less than a handful of pipemakers!) More recently Gubbels got known as producer of the Porsche¹ and Bugatti design pipes. Elbert Gubbels & Zonen B.V. is one of the worldwide biggest pipe producers today. Annually 250,000 - 300,000 pipes are made by ca. 60 employees. More than 70% of the production is exported.