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Assocalzaturifici (Trade Association for Italian Shoemakers) (Z1248)

Sustainability, education & training and internationalisation: Siro Badon,
the new Assocalzaturifici chair,

explains the guidelines of his mandate

Siro Badon, the new Assocalzaturifici chair

Increasing the focus on sustainability, with communication campaigns and targeted actions, requesting tax exemption for new samples and education and training activities, and establishing a scientific committee for MICAM.

This is the vision of the new Chair, with modernisation and continuity, ever at the service of the footwear businesses.

The Assocalzaturifici General Meeting, which met in Milan this morning during the Assembly of Confindustria Moda, proclaimed Siro Badon, of shoe manufacturer De Robert, as the Chair of Assocalzaturifici for the 2019-2023 four-year period.

The newly elected Chair has outlined a few policies that will steer his mandate: Made in Italy, innovation in the industry, sustainability of the production cycle, focus on the world of trade fairs and dialogue with the institutions: these were just some of the aspects highlighted in his speech.


Mr Badon’s policy speech placed the emphasis on innovation, understood both as product research & development and as a focus on education and training and on the need for institutions to do their bit to make it effective, with tax relief and targeted actions.

Research, in particular, characterised by both new production techniques and creativity and fashion content for the creation of new samples, plays a strategic role in the realm of goods made in Italy and must be subject to tax exemption and relief.

Training and education is also strategic in order to prevent the loss of professionalism and to make sure the next generation enters the industry with modern skills: to this effect, the Association aims to be the driver of policies for the transfer of skills between the regions and to foster ever-closer relations with Universities and higher technical institutes.

Regional resources, requested through hard lobbying in Italy and Europe, and an increased focus on interprofessional funds shall be the tools giving concrete expression to Assocalzaturifici’s action on the matter of the industry’s professionalisation.

The new chair also reaffirmed the desire to strengthen the association’s network of relations in Italy and to deploy targeted actions through research and innovation plans and projects, including as part of the new EU programme for 2021-2027 in partnership with CEC (European Confederation of the Footwear Industry).


Mr Badon reminded those present of how sustainability is one of the biggest challenges of the future, given consumers’ growing sensitivity to this theme, but also considering the need for businesses to save resources, cut down on waste and optimise energy supply.

According to the new chair, it has now become essential for this reason to draw up a strategic plan, in which CIMAC, Research & Development and Education and Training will play a fundamental role within Assocalzaturifici, to help reduce environmental impact and step up the circular economy approach in the fashion industry. The association will also be busy with a communication campaign diffused through international trade fair events, but not only.

In the context of production certification, Mr Badon reaffirmed, in particular, the role of CIMAC as one of the fundamental assets when it comes to the quality of production. He also observed how it should be strengthened, including through cross-cutting partnerships in the fashion industry to build an even more effective network of synergies and services for businesses.


With regard to market strategies, the newly elected chair announced that the trade fair policies and internationalisation activities will be supported and strengthened, in partnership with the ITA, through promotional and trade missions, scouting on the markets and incoming buyer programmes to present the assets of the Italian footwear industry to international customers: history, tradition, savoir faire, but above all savoir vivre, the Italian way of life.

He then reasserted the Association’s support to promote attendance of the Member Companies at foreign events, with a view to consolidating and boosting the presence of Italian companies on the various markets.

In the context of trade fairs, Mr Badon reminded those present that MICAM is the world’s best showcase of shoes made by small-medium and large Italian companies, announcing the intention to establish a Technical and Scientific Committee made up of representatives from Confindustria Moda, experts from the fashion world, influencers, sociologists, industry consumption analysts and exhibitors. The Committee will constantly interact and discuss with the Chair to make attendance of companies and buyers at the event even more widespread and strategic.


Following on seamlessly from Assocalzaturifici’s activity over the recent years, the new Chair reaffirmed the commitment and presence of the association in the districts to share the problems of the entrepreneurs and work with them to identify common solutions.

Among the aspects of particular importance for the new chair is the lobbying concerning the importance of Italian-made goods in Italy, in the EU and in all other major footwear-producing countries, so that, with the support of the various industry organisations and Confindustria Moda, common policies and initiatives can be boosted to make the “made in...” label and certificate of product origin mandatory.

Assocalzaturifici’s lobbying with the various Italian and European institutions will focus on themes such as cutting the cost of work, in an ongoing collaboration with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Development, but also with ITA, SACE and SIMEST.


Siro Badon was born in Padua and joined the family business - Saonara-based shoe manufacturer De Robert Srl - in 1976, working with his father, who founded the company in 1955, and with his brother Roberto in production management. Later on, he was responsible for the administrative management of the company, of which he became the Chairman in 1986.

Since the 1990s, he has focused on the business area, establishing the company in Northern Europe and embarking on a number of trips to Asia, where he has signed important trade agreements in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

For achieving these objectives, which have consolidated De Robert on the international scene, he was awarded the “Marco Polo” prize by Unioncamere del Veneto in 2010, as recognition for the significant internationalisation achieved by a SME.

Among the roles held in institutions and his positions within associations, he was a member of the General Council of Confindustria Venezia Rovigo, he was on the Board of Governors of NeaFidi, Confindustria Padova, Confindustria Veneto, Politecnico Calzaturiero and, at a national level, he was Deputy Chair of Assocalzaturifici in charge of Education and Training for 8 years.

He has been Chair of the Consorzio Maestri Calzaturieri del Brenta [Consortium of Master Shoemakers of Brenta] (ACRiB) since 2011. In the same year, he was unanimously called upon to lead ACRiB, becoming the Consortium's Chair in the year of its 50th anniversary. To ensure its continuity for another 50 years, he has steered ACRiB on the fundamental pathway of system integration with Confindustria Venezia Area Metropolitana di Venezia e Rovigo, for which he is coming to the end of his term as the Chair of ACRiB-Footwear Division.

Milan, 26 June 2019

Assocalzaturifici (Trade Association for Italian Shoemakers) (Z1247)
11 “stories” of Italian footwear businesses
Innovating as craftspeople:
a new book about family footwear businesses, edited by LIUC

Italy is a landmark for the footwear industry. It is the European Union's leading producer of shoes and ranks eleventh in the world for the number of pairs made. And many of its businesses are family-run. The latest book in the Università Cattaneo Libri series, published by Guerini Next, is dedicated to these family businesses. It is called “L’impresa calzaturiera di famiglia. Storie di una generazione che innova”, [“The family footwear business. Stories of an innovative generation”] and is edited by Valentina Lazzarotti (associate professor at the School of Industrial Engineering) and Federico Visconti (Rector of the Cattaneo-LIUC University).

In step with the last book dedicated to family businesses (“Family Up – Il giovane imprenditore tra continuità e cambiamento” [“Family Up – The young entrepreneur amidst continuity and change”]), the book is a journey to discover 11 examples of excellence in the industry. SMEs located in various areas of Italy (predominantly in the Marche region but also with companies based in Lombardy, Veneto, Campania and Tuscany), spanning all stages of the supply chain, from shoe-last manufacturers and tanneries to sole and heel manufacturers.

“The book,” explained Valentina Lazzarotti, “is the fruit of an initiative by the Assocalzaturifici trade association, whose aim, through this study, was to shine the spotlight on the sector’s centres of excellence, examining their dynamics and strategies.
On the one hand, there is an attempt to deal with the crisis by keeping costs down, including through process automation; on the other, there is the need to “remain craftspeople”, to guarantee beautiful Italian design, which makes these companies
invaluable partners for the big designer labels. The typical dynamics of family businesses fit into this context”.

In this regard, there are five categories of objectives guiding the choices of young entrepreneurs to innovate with respect to their predecessors. According to the specialist literature, these categories are typical of family businesses: family control of and influence on the business, identification and sense of belonging, attention to forging lasting relations with the various stakeholders, emotional loyalty and devotion among family members, desire to preserve the family dynasty.

These objectives take on a special meaning among the young people interviewed and are capable of setting in motion certain key factors of innovation (in terms of resource allocation, facilities and systems, and organisational learning). In turn, these create dimensions of innovation, which can be observed as changes in the way innovation itself is organised or in the results it produces (new products, new business models, new production processes, etc.)

“In addition to the choices made to manage innovation and besides its results,” continued Valentina Lazzarotti, “many other aspects surfaced from the cases examined, such as the internationalisation of these businesses, involvement of individuals from outside the family and the role of women at the top.”

The following businesses told their story in the book: Formificio STF, Conceria Sicerp, Suolificio Mannini Romano, Tacchificio Villa Cortese, Vittorio Virgili, Calzaturificio Gardenia, Missouri, Moda Di Fausto, Calzaturificio Brunate, Tedeschi Calzature and Loriblu.

“It would appear that the ‘way is being paved for innovation’ in the footwear industry,” explained the Rector, Federico Visconti, in the conclusion to the book, “the essential ingredients of which are to be found in the ways in which the critical factors behind innovative processes are activated, in the systematic opening to the contribution of third-party players, in the force linking measures taken to results achieved, in the quest to strike a new balance between the interests of the family that owns the business and the growth objectives of their business”.

“Our industry has always faced complex changes, but perhaps nowadays it finds itself addressing one of the greatest challenges: the paradigm shift towards a business logic which, while not neglecting the family origin, moves towards managerial forms, open to external collaboration and mindful of market development,” commented Annarita Pilotti, Assocalzaturifici Chair. “The encouraging snapshot of our industry offered by this book may therefore urge companies to change and offer them some strategies to consider.”

The development of knowledge in the area of family businesses is also providing the content for a new course at LIUC, called Family Business Management, as part of the three-year Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics, with specific training taught in English.

Milan, 26 June 2019

Assocalzaturifici (Trade Association for Italian Shoemakers) (Z1242)
Siro Badon appointed Chair of Assocalzaturifici
by the association’s Board

The Board of Assocalzaturifici, the association that represents Italian footwear manufacturers, has appointed Siro Badon to succeed Annarita Pilotti as the new Chairman, for the four-year term 2019/2023.

Siro Badon was elected with a large majority by the entrepreneurs who make up the Board of Assocalzaturifici, meeting today in Naples on the occasion of the World Footwear Congress. The appointment will have to be confirmed by the Annual General Meeting of the association, which will take place on 26 June in Milan, during the General Assizes of Confindustria Moda (Italian Federation of Textiles, Fashion and Accessories).

With a lifelong career in the footwear business and entrepreneur associations, Siro Badon is also Chairman of ACRIB, Associazione Calzaturieri Riviera del Brenta (the Brenta Riviera footwear manufacturers’ association) and owner of the De Robert shoe firm, one of the oldest in the area.

Milan, 5 April 2019
Assocalzaturifici (Trade Association for Italian Shoemakers) (Z1240)


Assocalzaturifici takes the best of our production to the Obuv’ Mir Koži in Moscow from the 19th to the 22nd of March.

Constantly monitoring strategic markets for Italian footwear exports remains high amongst Assocalzaturifici’s priorities. Because of this Obuv’ Mir Koži, the international exhibition of footwear and leather goods organised at the Moscow Expocentre from March 19th to 22nd, continues to be a reference point in the world of international trade fairs dedicated to the sector.

130 Italian brands will be present at the event that, over four days, will present the Autumn/Winter 2019/2020 collections to buyers and members of the trade from the Republics of the Russian Federation and the states that gravitate in the commercial orbit of the Eurasian giant - like Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Obuv’ Mir Koži, in fact, after Milan's Micam remains the most prestigious international showcase and guarantees excellent visibility to Italian footwear companies, as well as reflecting the vitality and fervour of a market that pays great attention to the creativity, quality and craftsmanship that goes into a product - all factors that have always characterised our “know-how”.

In 2017, more than 6.3 million pairs of Italian shoes were exported to Russia, for a total value of 380 million euros. In the first eleven months of 2018, Italy exported 5.2 million pairs, worth 316 million euros (down to 11.5% compared to the same period in 2017). Despite the unfavourable trend, Russia confirmed itself as the sixth reference market in terms of value and the eighth for volume in the world ranking of destination countries.

“Looking after this market remains key for our companies,” says Annarita Pilotti, President of Assocalzaturifici. “Our association continues to give operational support to companies that want to consolidate their business in an extremely crucial area for our export. Although attention to the price factor has become even more relevant, the Russian consumer continues to be eager for a quality product, representing the highest expression of the beautiful and well-made Italian products. Furthermore, the strong rise in online sales channels that has recently occurred offers Italian companies a further chance to easily

penetrate this market”.

Unfortunately, the persistence of uncertainty in the political dialogue between Russia and the European Union, and the stagnation of domestic consumption due to continuous currency tensions still affect the area’s economy. “In a climate exacerbated by the presence of sanctions with respect to the access of Russian banks to financial capital, it is inevitable that our exports will be strongly penalised,” adds Pilotti. “We are also concerned about the tendency of the government to reinforce non-tariff barriers which, together with the new traceability measures – which are anything but clear -, risk creating a serious obstacle for our companies that want to enter in this market”.

“Assocalzaturifici continues to invest in this area, supporting the efforts that Italian companies make every day to stay more and more competitive,” says Arturo Venanzi, Assocalzaturifici Councillor with responsibility for Russia and the CIS countries. “Our goal remains to identify high-profile buyers and quality contacts to increasingly make Obuv’ a business platform that brings together supply and demand. This is the reason for the renewed partnership with ITA Agency, which this year decided to also support the event with targeted investments, which are useful for consolidating the business of our companies in a fundamental area for our export”.

In fact, for over 10 years ITA Agency has supported the event by helping to strengthen the image of Italian products through support actions, among which stands out the incoming of specialised operators. This is an important mapping work that aims to intercept the new Russian retail universe, which has undergone a profound transformation in recent years. Besides this, among the activities in support of the Italian companies present at the Fair, ITA Agency produced - through the Trade Obstacle Desk operating at their Moscow Office - an informative piece on the “New Unique Identification Marking System in the Russian Federation” that will be legally in place for footwear as of the 1st of July.

“The Italian position is strong for the high-end market, with our competitors lagging far behind,” says Pier Paolo Celeste, Director of ITA Agency, Moscow. “Despite the stationary nature of consumption, ITA Agency will implement a series of very useful initiatives to support Russian buyers and to offer more and more information to their customers. This is why the choice of delegates imposes a strict selection, favouring those who operate in cities where consumption is growing”.

As part of Obuv’ there will be convivial moments in which business will leave room for Italian hospitality and know-how. In fact, during the event exhibitors and buyers will be able to take advantage of the daily catering available at the fair and of a series of services exclusively dedicated to them, available at the VIP Lounge.

Finally, on March the 20th, a cocktail evening will be held for operators within the ITA Lounge, located in Hall 3 of the Moscow Expocentre.

Milan, March 19, 2019

Assocalzaturifici (Trade Association for Italian Shoemakers) (Z1241)

The event, now in its 52nd year, offers German buyers the chance to finalise their orders.

From the 24th to the 26th of March, Germany will be showcasing Moda Made in Italy, an event organised by Assocalzaturifici and dedicated to high-end products. The exhibition, now in its 52nd year, invites industry experts to Hall 4 of the MOC (Munich Order Centre), Munich’s core exhibition space.

The 140 brands on show will have the chance to intercept industry buyers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, who have been showing an interest in Italian footwear excellence for over twenty years.

Italy exports approximately 34 million pairs of shoes to Germany each year. In the first eleven months of 2018, it recorded a 2.6% increase in exports compared to the same period in 2017, with substantial stability in terms of sales volume (+ 0.3%). Germany remains Italy’s second leading import market in terms of quantity, behind France, and the third in terms of value.

“Moda Made in Italy sets out to serve as a reference hub for all buyers investing in Italian-made products,” said Giovanna Ceolini, Vice President of Assocalzaturifici. “Our event is the main appointment for the fashion footwear and leather accessories industry in Germany and represents an effective way to access the entire market area for small and medium-sized companies operating in this sector. Only here do buyers arrive with the intention of finalising this season’s purchases. Our is a key industry event, strategically timed to take place at the end of the season: a crucial moment for buyers, who choose Moda Made in Italy as the ideal business platform to consolidate their orders”.

This year, the event has the same renewed and modern look of the last seasons, as well as a more functional route around the first floor of MOC Hall 4. Moreover, the Shoe Order Centre’s ‘permanent’ showrooms will remain open throughout Moda Made in Italy and will contribute synergistically to enriching the exhibition’s offering.

Finally, at the fair, buyers will find a purchase guide with the main A/W 2019/20 footwear and colour trends, prepared by the experts of WGSN, the largest trend forecasting agency in the world.

Milan, March 22nd, 2019

Assocalzaturifici (Trade Association for Italian Shoemakers) (Z1237)

Assocalzaturifici and EMI are launching two events in CIS countries: “La Moda Italiana@Almaty” in Kazakhstan, March 5 through 7, and “La Moda Italiana@Kiev” in Ukraine, March 11 and 12. The two events are based on the successful formula of “Shoes from Italy”, a footwear event Assocalzaturifici organised in Kazakhstan and Ukraine for more than a decade, expanded to include the entire fashion industry and present the retail market with a single event offering an all-Italian “total look”.

The support of ITA Agency with promotion of the initiative among footwear dealers and the practical assistance of ITA Almaty and ITA Kiev in on-site organisation complete the infrastructure of this important event for the fashion industry

La Moda Italiana@Almaty

The event takes place in Kazakhstan’s financial capital, Almaty, March 5 through 7 2019, at the prestigious Dom Priemov.

45 Italian fashion brands have confirmed that they will be at La Moda Italiana@Almaty to meet with a highly qualified selection of buyers from all over Central Asia through the incoming buyer programme financed by ITA Agency.

Kazakhstan is the second largest market in the area measured in terms of GDP, after Russia. Italian exports to Kazakhstan in the first ten months of 2018 amounted to 328 thousand pairs of shoes worth a total of 22.4 million euros, up 3.5% over the previous year in terms of quantity.

“The Kazakh market has not yet overcome the financial difficulties resulting from Russia’s economic crisis,” says Marino Fabiani, Assocalzaturifici adviser responsible for business in the CIS area. “The banking system is experiencing difficulty, and the currency, the tenge, is still weak compared to the euro and the dollar. This makes life harder for our clients, and consumer demand is not high either.

Yet the figures for the first ten months of last year suggest a partial upswing in the volume of Italian exports to the country. After all, Kazakhstan is the second largest market in the CIS area, and above all it demonstrates a strong interest in quality Italian footwear, which its high-spending clientèle are not ready to give up”.

La Moda Italiana@Almaty has a key role to play in maintaining strong links with a clientèle in search of quality located far away from the traditional sites of promotion of the Italian Fashion System, building new business opportunities in an area that still has plenty of potential for economic growth thanks to its vast energy resources.

Fabiani concludes, “The trade fair also intercepts buyers from Uzbekistan, a country that is seeing considerable growth of consumption (where the average price per pair is over 100 euros) and is open to foreign investment, as well as other Central Asian republics such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan”.

La Moda Italiana@Kiev

The spotlight will be on footwear, clothing and accessories at La Moda Italiana@Kiev in the Hotel Intercontinental in the Ukrainian capital March 11 through 12, 2019. Held in partnership with ITA Kiev, the event is the first b2b workshop for the Italian fashion industry in Ukraine. 24 companies will be offered an opportunity to introduce their brands on the Ukrainian market and consolidate their presence in the country’s principal distribution channels.

About 130 buyers are expected to attend, primarily as a result of ITA Agency’s promotion among footwear buyers.

Ukraine is going through tough times, but continues to represent an important market for the fashion industry as a whole. Italian footwear exports to Ukraine were worth 42 million euros in the first ten months of 2018, despite a -1.5% drop by quantity, -2% by value.

“Ukraine is acquiring a degree of stability once again, and represents the most important market for Italian footwear in eastern Europe after Russia,” says Marino Fabiani, Assocalzaturifici adviser responsible for business in the CIS area. “The currency has held its ground over the past year, allowing us to partially recover the volumes lost during the political and economic crisis of 2014-15.

Ukrainian buyers are staying true to Italian products, as demonstrated by their large presence at MICAM in Milan. Despite the slight drop in exports measured in terms of both value and volume in the first ten months of 2018 – partly due to the uncertainty that always precedes elections, scheduled for March 31 – Ukraine is still a very important market for Italian footwear, including premium footwear.

“Assocalzaturifici continues to watch and invest in the CIS area, a key market for Italian-made footwear.” “Though the difficult economic trend and the uncertainty of the financial climate have had a major impact on the area in the past four years, La Moda Italiana@Almaty and La Moda Italiana@Kiev offer an excellent opportunity for small to mid-sized Italian enterprises wanting to invest, innovate and expand internationally,” says Arturo Venanzi, Assocalzaturifici adviser appointed to cover Russia and the CIS area. “Our partnerships with EMI (Ente Moda Italia) and SMI (Sistema Moda Italia) and the support of ITA Agency are essential, allowing Assocalzaturifici to implement targeted actions setting up a system and intercepting new buyers. This year’s exhibition will also include a series of Italian clothing manufacturers, adding value which will have a positive impact on the service we provide and offer an additional incentive for all the buyers participating in our event”.

“The ‘La Moda Italiana’ shows in Almaty and Kiev are two strategic platforms for participating Italian men’s and women’s clothing brands,” says Alberto Scaccioni, Ente Moda Italia CEO. “This is an important opportunity to enter two markets in areas that used to be parts of the Soviet Union and the countries around them, which are significant importers of Italian fashion. We will be bringing Assocalzaturifici member companies and a vast selection of men’s and women’s footwear collections to Almaty, the financial heart of a country which has been demonstrating growing appreciation of Italian style over the past few seasons. This is confirmed by Confindustria Moda Study Centre figures registering a growth rate of +4.0% for clothing, hosiery and footwear exports in the first 8 months of 2018, registering a total value of 38.8 million euros (riding the wave of the favourable trend that appeared in 2017, when exports totalled almost 60 million euros). And our expectations for our companies’ participation in Kiev are high, because, despite the complex geopolitical scenario, the Ukrainian market has demonstrated a great ability to bound back: Italian fashion exports grew +3.5% in the first 8 months of 2018, to a total of 87.5 million euros, in the wake of the growth trend registered in 2017, confirming Ukraine’s importance as the second largest market in the CIS area, after Russia. I wish to conclude by underlining the extent to which the value and effectiveness of these shows is dependent on our work in partnership with Assocalzaturifici and Sistema Moda Italia, with the essential support of ITA Agency and its offices in these countries, with whom we are conducting promotional actions specifically targeting the best buyers and underlining the quality and style of Italian fashion”.

Milan, 05 March 2019

Assocalzaturifici (Trade Association for Italian Shoemakers) (Z1215)
THE ITALIAN FOOTWEAR INDUSTRY: 2018 Preliminary results

The second half of 2018 was characterised by a slowdown in production (-4% in quantity, according to calculations made by the Confindustria Moda Research Centre on behalf of Assocalzaturifici) and the persistence of difficulties in several key foreign markets, as well as the now chronic stagnation of Italian household spending.

According to preliminary forecasts, the year as a whole closes with a reduction in Italian manufacturing volumes (-2.6%) and exports (-2.3%), despite increases in value terms as a result of increasing average prices. While the diverging trends between volume and value confirm, on the one hand, the excellent perception of Italian products by foreign buyers – exports reached yet another record in absolute terms at approximately 9.6 billion euro, even net of inflation – on the other, they confirm the decisive role now played in the sector by major international luxury brands. This can be seen by new double figure increases in trade flows towards Switzerland (which is used as a logistics and distribution platform by fashion brands) and the hike in average prices for France.

Looking in detail at destination markets and areas, 2018 primarily saw a new slowdown in Russia (-14.3% in quantity according to the official ISTAT data for the first 10 months): current sales are half of 2013 levels, with severe repercussions for the districts most exposed to this area.

Trends varied throughout the EU (which accounts for 7 out of 10 pairs of shoes sold abroad): Germany (+2% in volume, our leading market in volume terms) and the UK were stable, but there were reductions in quantity for the other main markets (France – which is the leading market in value terms – Spain, Belgium, Holland). On the other hand, there were increases in exports to North America (+7.6%, despite falling prices) and the Far East (led by China and South Korea).

There was a slight reduction (including as a result of the concurrent increase in the value of imports) in the balance of trade surplus, which should be around 4.45 billion euro for the year as a whole (-2% compared to 2017).

In Italy, the data for household spending in the first 11 months of the year shows no sign of a recovery: -0.9% in volume and -0.3% in spending. The only segment that improved was that of sports shoes/sneakers.

There have been severe repercussions for the productive fabric and employment trends as a result of this renewed postponement of the recovery and the worsening of the macroeconomic situation. According to final 2018 data from Italian Chambers of commerce, there was a further significant fall in the number of active businesses (-203 footwear manufacturers, across both the industrial and crafts segments, compared to 2017, i.e. -4.3%), with a loss of 920 workers (-1.2%). The collapse in authorised hours of C.I.G. wage support in the leather segment in 2018 (-28%), which can be seen across all other sectors, is linked to the reform of salary integration instruments introduced by the Jobs Act (as well as the abrogation of C.I.G. in derogation) and certainly not to any improvement in the economic situation.

The general sentiment at the start of 2019 is one of caution: the fall in orders in the final quarter of last year (-1.2% in quantity) foreshadows a continuation of the lack lustre production levels seen at the end of 2018, as also confirmed by businesses asked about their outlook for the coming months.

Let us now analyse the individual variables in detail.

There was a new slowdown in output volumes after the recovery in 2017 (which closed up a moderate +1.6% on 2016). The survey conducted in January with Assocalzaturifici Members led to estimates for national production volume, for the year as a whole, being revised downwards from the first six months of the year, to -2.6%. This result would mean Italian production volumes of 185.7 million pairs, almost 5 million less than in 2017.

As is the norm, the situation appears rather varied across companies, although the majority of feedback is negative (and the number of negative respondents has increased compared to previous surveys). Almost 55% of respondents reported a reduction in production volumes (up from 42% in the first six months of the year and 51% at the time of the survey on the first 9 months). At the same time, there was a reduction in respondents reporting an increase (25% of the survey sample, with 12% of companies reporting increases of more than 5% in volume); the remaining 20% reported stable production volumes.

The analysis by respondent turnover class shows, on average, negative trends for both companies with turnovers in excess of 15 million euro and smaller companies, with the latter feeling the pinch much more significantly.

Combining the result for volumes with price trends (that increased appreciably in foreign markets starting from the second quarter of 2018), we can estimate an increase in the value of production of Italian manufacturing of around +0.7% over 2017, i.e. 7.85 billion euro.

The order books for companies in the sample during the final quarter of 2018 highlight an overall reduction of -1.2% in volume, with a negative contribution from both the domestic market (-2.5%) and orders from abroad (-0.9%).

In keeping with the export data, the most positive results in terms of orders come from the Far East and US.

The official figures released by ISTAT, which only cover the first 10 months of the year, show an increase of exports in value terms of 3.9%, but there was a concurrent reduction in quantity of -2.3%, with a 6.4% increase in average prices.

Between January and October, including pure commercialisation transactions, sales abroad amounted to 176.5 million pairs (more than 4 million less than in the same period in 2017) for a value of just under 8.1 billion euro, and a forecast for the year as a whole of just under 9.6 billion. These figures represent yet another record in absolute terms for the respective periods. This confirms, once again, the excellence of Italian manufacturing of high-end products.

Exports to EU countries fell by 4.6% in quantity despite a 3.6% increase in value (the increase in average prices was significant: +8.6%). There were increases for both Germany (+2% in volume) and the United Kingdom (+1.6%). The other remaining EU markets performed below expectations, with reductions in volume across the board (France -6.7%, Spain at -7.7%, Holland -13.7%, Belgium -11.6%, Austria -3%), despite increases – or at any rate less negative trends – in value terms.

Sales outside the EU were more satisfactory, with increases of 4.3% in value and +2.9% in quantity. Once again the driver of exports outside the EU was Switzerland (+14.2% in volume, +17.1% in value), the destination for increasing levels of subcontracting from Italian footwear manufacturers on behalf of luxury brands.

Sales in the Far East were positive (+3.1% in quantity overall), thanks especially to China (increases of about 20%, in both volume and value) and South Korea (+6.7% in volume), that offset the negative trends for Hong Kong (-7% in quantity) and Japan (-2.2%).

With regard to Japan, the entry into force of the free trade agreement with the EU could represent a major opportunity for Italian businesses: despite full liberalisation being some way off, the removal of quotas and a progressive reduction of tariffs will make this key market more accessible.
North America fared well, with +7.6% in volume and +0.8% in value on the whole, with a +5.8% increase in the number of pairs in the US and Canada buoyed by the provisional entry into force of the CETA, with a much heftier +21.6%.

However, there is no shortage of alarming signs, foremostly, for the new slowdown in Russia: after the initial recovery in 2017, in the first 10 months of 2018 there was a fall of -14.3% in quantity, coming on top of the fall of -9.6% in the first two quarters.

There is no sign of a recovery in the Middle East either (-10% in volume overall), where the UAE is still struggling (-4.2%) and Saudi Arabia stands out for its negative performance (-19%).

The analysis of exports according to types of shoes, highlights worse than average trends for leather shoes (-4.3% in quantity and +0.4% in value terms). Only the segment of shoes made in fabric was positive in volume terms (+3%), with reductions for all other shoe types of between -0.9% for synthetic shoes and -5% for slippers, which also experienced a -8.7% slump in value terms.

The majority of types of leather shoes experienced reductions, especially in volume terms: -4% for sandals; -5.8% (with value stable) for low walking shoes; -5.6% for items covering the ankle (boots and booties, which increased by 3.1% in value). On the other hand, there were positive results for safety footwear with protective metal toes: +3.6% volume and +8.9% value.

After a prolonged period of difficulty, the assessment per segment/user highlights a recovery for children’s footwear with leather uppers (+4.4% in quantity) and negative trends for men’s shoes (-4.1%, although there was an increase in value of +2.4%) and women’s shoes (-8%, with -2% in value).

With regard to imports, the first 10 months showed a slight consolidation in volume (+1.3%), with a more pronounced +10.3% in terms of value, compared to January-October 2017 (+8.9% in the average price, which was 14.92 euro/pair, i.e. a third of the average price for exports).

There was a 4.9% increase in Chinese imports, which make up 4 out of every 10 imported pairs of shoes, but there was a 6.4% reduction in average prices. There were reductions in excess of 10% in volume for imports from Romania and Vietnam and a reduction of around -20% in imports from the Netherlands. On the other hand, there was a strong increase in imports from France and Germany, of about 30% in quantity.

The breakdown by upper material highlights reductions in volume for leather (-3.8%) and rubber footwear (-13.7%). Synthetic uppers remained essentially stable. There were increases for textile shoes (+7.8% in quantity) and slippers (+6,6%).

In the first 10 months of 2018, the balance of trade saw a surplus of 3.65 billion euro, with a year on year reduction of -2.8%. In any case, this result puts the footwear manufacturing sector in seventh place in terms of the trade surpluses of the 99 merceological chapters in the customs classification.

There was no appreciable improvement for the Italian market which continues to be of strategic importance for Italian producers, despite the negative performances in the past decade, as this continues to represent the third largest destination market in both volume and value terms.

SITA Ricerca's fashion consumer panel shows a reduction in spending from Italian households of -0.9% in quantity and -0.3% in terms of expenditure for the first 11 months of 2018. Price sensitivity remained very high (+0.6%), with purchases during annual and fire sales accounting for more than half of overall sales.

The only types of shoes with positive results were “sports shoes and sneakers” (+3.6% in number of pairs and +2.1% in value). There were reductions in volume of around 3% for women's shoes, men's shoes (although these remained stable in value terms) and slippers, while the reduction in volume for children's shoes amounted to -1.4%.

Unfortunately the preliminary results for December rule out major trend reversals compared to the previous months.

With regard to the performance of purchases in accordance with the sales channel, although we still do not have final data for the year, these should be in line with results for the first six months of the year, showing reductions for traditional retail channels and favourable trends for chains and e-commerce. Indeed, in the first six months of 2018 e-commerce accounted for 10% of total expenditure, up from a mere 3.6% in 2013.

As was the case in the previous two year period, 2018 closed with reductions in the number of active footwear manufacturers (-203 compared to December 2017, across both the industrial and crafts segments, according to Chamber of commerce data) and in workforce (-920 units).

At the end of December 2018 the sector had 4,505 companies and 75,680 direct staff members, a reduction of 4.3% and 1.2% respectively compared to the final figures for 2017 (with the reduction in workforce for the previous two years being just under 0.5%). By extending the analysis to the entire Ateco CB152 item, which includes components, according to the calculations by Infocamere-Movimprese negative balances increased to -323 companies and -1,885 employees. Territorial details are also available for this data, which show the greatest tension in the Marche, a region which has been hit hard by the protracted crisis in the markets of the former Soviet Union.

With regard to the number of companies trading, there were reductions compared to 2017 for all seven of the main footwear manufacturing regions. Emilia Romagna and Lombardy were the regions with the smallest reductions in absolute terms (-10 and -12 companies respectively); while there were reductions in the order of 20 units for Puglia and Campania. Finally, they were quite significant in Veneto (-43), Tuscany (-65) and especially, as explained, in the Marche (-138 companies), which also had the biggest reduction in percentage terms (-4.1%).

In terms of staff numbers, five of the seven footwear manufacturing regions closed the year down on the final figures for 2017, with only Puglia and Lombardy reporting positive trends. Veneto (-355), Campania (-389) and Marche (-1,116 staff, between footwear manufacturers and producers of components) were the regions that experienced the most significant falls.

The negative trend highlighted by the chamber of commerce database was confirmed during the survey conducted with Assocalzaturifici members, with companies in the sample reporting an overall reduction in their workforce in the order of 2%. Half of the companies in the survey reported a decrease in their workforce, but for 28% of respondents the reduction was limited to 3 units. 23% of respondents reported stable workforce numbers compared to the end of 2017, while the remaining 27% reported increases in their workforce.

According to a significant majority of respondents (70%) workforce levels at the end of 2018 will remain unchanged during the first six months of 2019, although the number of respondents expecting a reduction (19%) is almost double the number of respondents expecting an increase (11%). We are therefore likely to see a further slight reduction in workforce numbers.

In conclusion, we must stress once again that very little should be made of the major reduction (-28%) in the hours of C.I.G. authorised in 2018 in the Leather Area (which was in line with the total number of hours authorised across all Italian sectors, -38%). Indeed, this is due to the combined effects of the reform of salary integration instruments introduced by the Jobs Act – greater obstacles in terms of access, higher costs and new rules on its maximum duration – as well as the dwindling of C.I.G. in derogation (-98%) as provided by the specific regulation that replaced it.

It should also be noted that these figures do not consider the hours authorised by the FIS salary integration fund and other Solidarity Funds (as this data is not disclosed by INPS), nor do they include disbursements by the FSBA bilateral solidarity fund for the crafts sector.

Returning to the C.I.G., 6.6 million hours were granted for the Leather Area, compared to 9.1 million hours granted in 2017 and 13.3 million in 2016.

The reduction could be seen across all the main footwear manufacturing regions, with the sole exception of Veneto (+26.4%). There was a reduction in both extraordinary C.I.G. in the strict sense (-24%) and ordinary C.I.G., albeit less drastically (-10.6%).

As a result of these trends, the hours granted in 2018 once again slipped below (-18%) levels seen ten years ago in 2008, before the start of the global economic crisis: only the number of hours of ordinary C.I.G. is higher than it was then (+17%).

Sectoral note prepared by the Confindustria Moda Research Centre for Micam Milano

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