More and more often, one hears words from Russian sellers that every season they have to choose their assortment more and more carefully: store visitors stop buying everything; suppliers, as soon as they feel that the flow of Russian customers has grown, immediately raise prices. By optimizing the assortment, sellers make the selection more thoroughly, and at the same time look closely at new brands. The process is mutual - because new brands unknown in Russia are also looking for ways to reach out to Russian buyers. A striking example of this is the organization of the French pavilion at the September International Exhibition of Shoes and Accessories "MosShoes".
Six French companies took part in the exhibition to showcase French technology and fashion. They have made their choice in favor of Russia and are ready to invest their efforts in the development of the Russian market. Support to the pioneers of the Russian market was provided by the French Federation of Footwear Manufacturers and the Agency for the Development of International Activities of French Enterprises UBIFRANCE. It was on the initiative of these organizations that the French pavilion was organized at MosShoes. And this is only the beginning of French expansion into Russia - in total there are about 180 companies in the French Federation of Footwear Manufacturers, of which about 30 are working or starting to work with Russia. Russia to one of the first places.
Last year, shoes worth 16 million euros were exported to Russia. For reference: in 2006-2007, the export of French goods to Russia, according to French customs, amounted to $ 7,77 billion (an increase of 30%).
Compared to the total export figures for shoes (in 2007, France exported 66 million pairs of shoes worth 1,34 billion euros), the volumes are still relatively small, but there are dynamics.
What can our sellers get from working with French companies? What are their advantages?
French shoes are a status. At a press conference dedicated to the opening of the French pavilion, the speakers recalled that French companies have been and remain the trendsetters of Haute Couture - it is enough to say Hermes or Louis Vuitton to confirm this. The status of legislators is historically determined: the geographical position of France has contributed to the mixing of cultural traditions. This crossroads of cultures allowed France to absorb the knowledge and experience of all peoples and ensured the high creativity of the descendants of the Gauls.
It was creativity that Bernard Paitreault, adviser on trade and economic issues of the economic mission of the French Embassy in Russia, called the key advantage of modern French companies. Patrick Moniott added that it is profitable to work with French companies because their purchase prices are an order of magnitude lower than their closest neighbors - Italians. For reference: France Mode has one pair of shoes in the purchase on average 25 - 45 euros, while Pinderie prices range from 25 to 40 euros for shoes and from 45 to 80 euros for boots.
By the way, representatives of the federation emphasized that France is not only luxury goods, but also a large selection of comfortable everyday shoes. French companies have achieved a leading position in many areas - in the production of luxury footwear (for example, Samson), children's shoes (Noel), as well as work shoes.
The representatives of the companies participating in the French Pavilion are sure that their advantage lies in the variety of collections. Almost every company has a range of several lines of different price levels and targeted at different audiences. So, the Pinderie company has three lines: Sweet (classic comfortable shoes), Madison (youth shoes) and Karston (sports shoes). According to the export manager of the company, Alexander Shupen, only a part of the collection was brought to the Moscow exhibition (there are 300 models in total) - those models that best express the ideas of all three shoe lines. Plastigom, which traditionally produced footwear under two brands - Paradoxale and Lundi Bleu (high and medium price segment), brought its new brand 6TM to MosShoes, which is more affordable.
Additional advantages for French brands are provided by the use of new technologies. For example, the manufacturer of women's shoes, Samson, adds milk from the Hevea rubber tree to shoes to ensure the shoes are waterproof. Export manager of Samson Svetlana Ginkovskaya adds that in addition to this know-how, Samson's advantages include wide-bodied shoes, comfortable elastic exhibitions and a cushioning system in the heel. By the way, Samson is one of the few companies that actively implements the ideas of business social responsibility. For production, adhesives on a natural basis are used for all processes that require the use of water. The company uses only rainwater (for details on the ethical and environmental projects of European companies, see one of the following issues).
As Patrick Moniott noted, speaking about the prospects of working in Russia, entering any market, including the Russian one, is quite simple - it is difficult to stay on it, not to lose face in front of customers. This is the top priority for French manufacturers in the coming years.
At the same time, companies do not expect success "from a running start", they are ready to build relationships with Russian buyers step by step, gradually and consistently. France Mode export manager Helen Point Gasca says the company selects two or three countries each year where their shoes are not yet available to explore the local market. This year, the priority countries included Belgium, Switzerland, Russia. And if the first two countries were on the list due to their geographical and cultural proximity to France, then Russia entered it due to its powerful economic potential.
The experience of export activities for companies ranges from 5 to 30 years, but the key area of work is the same - to find a developed trading structure in Russia that could deal with customs clearance and certification of shoes. In this case, a Russian company can be both an agent (receive a commission for orders received through it) and a distributor (the company initially buys a large batch, and then resells it).
Next year, the French Federation of Footwear Manufacturers is ready not only to organize a French pavilion at MosShoes, but also to invite Russian buyers to factories in France.
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