Italian footwear making its way back up, but not yet fully on the path to recoveryAt a turning point in her term of office, the President of Assocalzaturifici, Annarita Pilotti, announces a cautious sense of optimism to the National Assembly of Footwear Manufacturers for the sector's future, while warning them that the path to recovery is still far away.
After a 2016 characterized by light and shadows, Made in Italy exports once again began to experience growth during the first quarter of 2017, allowing for a renewed sense of confidence and optimism in the sector. This is what emerged from the Assocalzaturifici National Assembly which, with the title “Smart Factory – Italian manufacturing in the running for the development of the 4.0 Industry”, took place at the LIUC Università Catteneo in Castellanza (VA) this past 27 June 2017, with the participation of the Undersecretary of Economic Development.
Heading the session was Annarita Pilotti, who began her speech by underlining how Made in Italy continues to be driven by exports: “Also during the month of March we registered a +13% compared to the same month last year, for a total increase of 5% in value and 2% in quantity over the entire quarter. Results that see the volumes brought back to the same levels of two years ago (which were not the best), while at the same time achieving a new record in terms of value”.
At the same time, the weak signs of recovery do not allow the negative results of 2016 to be completely dismissed, also in light of the complex economic situation and climate of uncertainty surrounding international markets: “The domestic demand has remained stagnant – explained Annarita Pilotti – after eight years of decline. Despite all this, the sector has managed to limit the drop in its production levels (-1.9% in volume); and reinforce its foreign sales (8.9 billion euros, +2.6%), while maintaining a favourable trade balance (+1.3%). It has also put a stop to the drop in orders experienced in the CIS area, registering a +13% in volume: a recovery that signals a market reversal, which however remains below the levels of 2013 by around -40% in quantity and -50% in value”.
In the EU, where 7 out of 10 pairs are destined, Made in Italy in 2016 reconfirmed France as its first market, despite the drop in volume and value (respectively -5% and -0.6% compared to the previous year). Instead, maintaining their levels steady were Germany (-0.4% and +3.4%), the Netherlands (+2.5% in quantity) and, notwithstanding Brexit, the United Kingdom (+2.2%). Outside the EU, Switzerland, the traditional logistic platform, increased by +15.1% in value; the markets of the Far East were up +3.8% in volume and +5.2% in value; and China and Hong Kong, which together represent a fifth of the market value in the Far East, were confirmed as this area’s most dynamic markets, while South Korea grew by +16.7% in value.
The President with her revolutionary ideas expressed her disapproval of the continuing commercial sanctions against Russia, which are at fault for blocking energies that could 0therwise help provide a boost to Italian exports. It is with this same feeling of regret that she mentioned the missing approval on mandatory labelling, while promising however to quickly provide concrete results thanks to the joint lobbying activities of Assocalzaturifici and Confindustria in Brussels. Annarita Pilotti also underlined the efforts being made to oppose China being granted market economy status by the EU, which “would effectively cancel out the competitiveness of European manufacturing industries”; while hoping for the recovery of the TTIP negotiations, and praising the CETA agreement that eliminated export duties towards Canada, which up until today had been equal to 18%. She then commended the re-launching of the free trade agreement with Japan, as well as the resumed talks with the member states of Mercosur: markets that are of high appeal for Italian exports.
In terms of internationalization, Annarita Pilotti mentioned the important support of the Ministry of Economic Development at the trade fairs frequented by Assocalzaturifici, and the support of the newly conceived Confindustria Moda, the Federation of Fashion, Textiles, and Accessories, which brings together a network of 67 thousand businesses par excellence in Italian manufacturing, with a turnover superior to 88 billion euros and 580 thousand employees. A synergy that will increasingly make itself known starting from the next edition of the MICAM, to be held from 17 to 20 September in Milan, when next to the most prestigious Italian footwear manufacturers, also big names in designer fashion will exhibit at the fair: Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Sergio Rossi and Ermenegildo Zegna.
Ending the long session, Ivan Scalfarotto underlined how manufacturing is of central importance for the government, with Italy as the second biggest manufacturing power in Europe. He urged entrepreneurs to take a step forward and to tackle the challenge represented by the fourth industrial revolution. With regards to the 4.0 Industry, Raffaele Secchi, Director of the LIUC Business School, provided entrepreneurs present at the Assembly with a key to interpreting this phenomenon that is “consistent with their business strategies and with the experimentation of new technologies currently under development”.
From theory to practice, the session ended with a visit to the two laboratories “Smart Factory” and “3d printing”, where guests were given the opportunity to imagine the future of their factories.