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ITALIAN FOOTWEAR: HIGH QUALITY PAYS OFF, EVEN DURING A CRISIS
“We know that the economic crisis does not depend on the competitiveness of our businesses, on our skill, or on the quality of our products. We are ready to take advantage of the signs of recovery, and our willingness to invest in new and old markets has not been affected”. The analysis of Vito Artioli, president of ANCI, the National Association of Italian Footwear Manufacturers is both realistic and optimistic. Realistic because it is based on the awareness that the Italian footwear sector has not escaped the consequences of the severe recession that has hit the global economic system. Optimistic in that it hinges around an important belief: a high quality product pays off even in times as difficult as those we are currently experiencing.
The most important reasons for optimism include the considerable resilience of the internal market, while the drop in sales to European Union markets is less than the average (-12.1% in volume and -9.7% in value; the data currently available refer to the first five months of 2009). This is due in particular to France’s substantial confirmation (-2.2% in volume and -1.3% in value), France having overtaken Germany to become our primary destination market in the period examined. Slippage on foreign markets was inevitable, but president Artioli emphasized, by way of compensation, that “the negative dynamic is less penalizing than that of overall exports. The footwear segment emerges from the sectors suffering from the crisis as the one which has the best performance”.
Testifying to the renowned quality of the supply in Italy’s footwear sector is the confirmation of a long-term trend: the upward repositioning of Italian products. This repositioning can be seen from the increase of the average purchase price (+1.7%, with a peak of + 5.5% for leather walking shoes). This growth does not only depend on adjustments in the exchange rates with non-EU countries, considering that a trend of increasing average prices can also be traced to exchanges within the European Union.
“It is also very encouraging - adds Artioli - to see our companies’ readiness to face the future, given that in this critical phase, they are continuing to invest in promotions in new markets. And they are continuing to rely on that which has, by now, become an unmissable trade fair happening: our Micam ShoEvent”. In fact the international footwear show, whose 2009 edition was held in September in Milan, has once again asserted itself as the landmark exhibition of the sector. The figures show this clearly: the forthcoming spring-summer collections were presented by 1,601 exhibitors and covered a total of 71,716 square metres of exhibition space. The next edition of the fair will take place once again in Milan from 2 to 5 March 2010, when the exhibitors (approximately 1,600 are expected, of which 1,000 are Italian) will show what’s new for the autumn-winter 2010 collection.