A historic positive cycle for leather-footwear machineryMore than 38.4% in 5 years for footwear, leather-goods and tanning machinery. Despite the weak growth of world trade, exports for the sector have grown.
2016 has also been a positive year: “If we can take some credit – says Gabriella Marchioni Bocca, ASSOMAC president – it is for the fact that, despite the uncertainty, our sector has managed to hold its ground. Compared to 2012, the last year in which our exports fell as a result of the global recession, foreign sales have grown by 38.4%. The most positive aspect is the fact that this year’s growth has generally been across the board: nearly all sectors and market areas are growing.”
Data processed by the Ufficio Studi of ASSOMAC (the Italian Association of Manufacturers of Footwear, Leather Goods and Tanning Technologies) show that the 2016 turnover grew by 7.2% compared with the previous year, reaching 625 million euros. As always, sales were primarily driven by exports (approx. 75% of turnover) totalling almost 467 million euros (+8.2% compared with 2015) against imports of just over 33 million euros, thus bringing the trade balance for the sector to a net revenue of more than 433 million euros.
The two main areas of tanning machinery and traditional footwear machinery have seen exports increase by 9.4% and 2.1% respectively, while leather-goods machinery increased significantly due to some specific contracts, such to take it to fourth place for exports in value terms. Only machinery for synthetic footwear (rubber and sports) recorded an arrest. Machinery parts, instead, increased by 7.2% almost breaking through the threshold of 90 million euros of exports.
A vital sector, therefore, supported by a dynamic association that has developed the “Green Label” (see the other article in the magazine) to focus on traceability and the ability to ensure product safety throughout the entire leather-footwear supply chain up to the final consumer. An association that has opened a new Footwear Technological Centre in Ho Chi Min in collaboration with the Vietnamese government and that has other projects underway in Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, Bosnia Herzegovina… An association that manages the Simac Tanning Tech trade fair which recorded an 11% increase in visitors and a 20% increase in exhibition space in 2017. An association that is committed to issues of technological innovation of highly automated systems, producing significant results in the “Form” project – due to the standardisation of geometric, dimensional and reference elements for manipulation and shaping in automated machines – and in defining the standard communication between machines.
Asia is still the point of reference for Italian exports (with a share of 40.2% for tanning machinery and 40.1% for leather-goods machinery). Italian exports to Eastern and Western Europe have grown, often by two-digit figures. Less linear, but generally positive, is the trend of exports to Central-North America, while there has been a widespread reduction in exports to South America, with the sole exception of leather-goods machinery.
For ASSOMAC Industry 4.0 is not just a slogan. In fact, the association is working on projects that invest in new knowledge rather than in new machinery, also with the involvement of the supply chain. Companies are investing in new technologies, even in countries where the manufacturing industry has been on the wane, but now once again fundamental thanks to the speed of their response to the market, versatile management of small production volumes and product customisation.