Encouraged by the “best quarter ever” between October and December and the 14.3% increase in exports in January, Portuguese footwear “apprehends” the “east winds” coming from Ukraine, but “does the work from home.”
“The last quarter of 2021 was the best ever in terms of international markets for the Portuguese footwear industry. We started 2022 with a very positive balance – exports increased by 15% at the start of the year. year – and we anticipated that it would be a year of strong affirmation of Portuguese footwear in foreign markets. Now, naturally, we are more worried,” said the communication director of the Portuguese Footwear Association, components, leather goods and substitutes (APICCAPS).
Speaking to the Lusa agency on the sidelines of the MICAM shoe fair in Milan, Italy, where 35 Portuguese companies are taking part from today until Tuesday, Paulo Gonçalves however assured that the sector continues “to do his homeworks”.
“Not only have we returned in force to what is the largest shoe show in the world, but the investment that we intend to make until 2025, of around 140 million euros, is already well known. public, to make our industry the most modern. and the most sustainable in the world”, he underlined, assuring: “We are doing our homework so that, when the world returns to its normal rhythm, Portugal can be at the forefront of this process of developing a 21st century”.
Although the Russian and Ukrainian markets together represent less than 1% of sales in the footwear sector, which “exports more than 95% of its production to 170 countries and does not depend on any particular market”, APICCAPS fears “secondary effects of a war in the center of Europe, with the consequences that may flow from it”.
In addition to problems such as the rising costs of energy, fuel and raw materials, there is an “indirect effect” which can penalize part of Portuguese footwear exports to markets such as Germany, the Netherlands Bas or Poland, whose final destination was re-export to Russia.
“We know, of course, that there is this indirect effect, but we do not have objective data that allows us to conclude that it is such and such a number. What we do know is that we are in a climate of uncertainty, always detrimental to business in general”, concluded Paulo Gonçalves.
The brand manager for Kyaia, a company based in Guimarães and owner of the Fly London brand, highlights the “great uncertainty” that the “east winds” have brought back to the sector, precisely when it was recovering from the impact suffered by the pandemic.
“The year 2022 has started well, but now we are in this situation and no one knows how it will evolve,” acknowledged António Alves, in an interview with Lusa.
And if, directly, the effects of the war in Ukraine are limited, since Russia “did not represent much” for Kyaia, the company fears “all the strangeness of the market in relation to this situation” and says that it “is already beginning to feel ‘the effects’ in the surrounding countries”, particularly in Poland and even in Germany.
“In Germany we had a situation where a customer ended up withdrawing the order, […] because he had relations with a Russian community and he ended up being affected by that,” he said.
With more than 95% of production destined for export, Kyaia’s main markets are the United States, United Kingdom and Germany and, despite the current uncertainty, plans to increase its turnover this year compared to 2021: “The easterly winds may have a little impact, but the prospect was and continues to be to grow in 2022”, assured António Alves.
The sports shoe brand Ambitious, from the Guimarães company Celita, also made a “very residual percentage” of its total sales of 18 million euros to Russia and Ukraine, so it expects a “minor impact”. on turnover. .
Despite everything, he recognizes that, “especially Russia, it was an extremely interesting market”, that the company “was starting to develop” and that, now, it had to go on ‘stand by’.
Despite everything, he plans to keep the business he has in neighboring countries: “We are already in this area, so we will continue. We know that we will have some difficulties, but we will continue”, assured the businessman Paulo Martins.
With exports to around 45 countries, including Italy and Germany, Ambitious expects the prolongation of the war to worsen the effects already felt on the cost of energy, transport and fuel and considers that It is inevitable that these increases will have repercussions on the final consumer price. .
“We are going to suffer because these costs are going to increase, that is clear. It will be inevitable and will also have an impact on our ancillary industry, which are our suppliers, and I think there will be no great solutions other than to reflect this increase in the end consumer,” he concluded.
National participation in MICAM is part of the promotional strategy defined by APICCAPS and the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP), with the support of the Compete 2020 program, and aims to consolidate the relative position of the Portuguese footwear in foreign markets, where the sector exports more than 95% of its production.