The caution of the owners of French stores, who made a very small order for 2009, turned out to be unnecessary - shoppers did not leave. The joy of the exhibitors at the Made in France pavilion at MosShoes was understandable - the buyers, who had suspended their cooperation due to the crisis, began to return. The president of the French Shoe Federation Jean-Pierre Renaudin spoke in more detail about the state of the French shoe industry SR.
- In your opinion, did the French footwear industry manage to overcome the consequences of the crisis?
- The French footwear industry has changed radically, but the cause of the changes should be sought long before the crisis. In particular, we experienced a transition from the industrial era, when shoes were produced exclusively in France, to the era of segmentation, when factories began to partially transfer production outside the country.
The economic crisis itself did not have a direct impact on the shoe industry, with the possible exception of a serious limitation of access to credit, which from a financial point of view hinders the development of any industry.
- For Russian retail, the most serious problems were the decline in consumer demand, difficulties in obtaining bank loans and the 100% prepayment introduced by suppliers. What problems worried French store owners?
- In France there was not a big decline in consumption - just a slight decrease in the average purchase price. Nevertheless, retail has taken certain measures and began to reduce purchases from the end of 2008, suggesting that 2009 will be quite difficult. But these forecasts did not materialize, so 2010 was the year of orders aimed at replenishing inventory in stores, which was almost completely sold out. The results of the first semester of this year are encouraging - consumption is growing, and trade balances are declining. Returning to loans, I want to note that they moved from banking to the manufacturing sector: manufacturers began to increase deferred payments. But the state obliged all French enterprises to reduce deferred payments, which automatically affected the consumer sector.
- What now can be considered a strength of French manufacturers?
- The advantage of French shoes is quite significant, despite a noticeable reduction in employment in this area. For centuries, French shoe makers conveyed their production traditions, which are now being embodied not only in modern technology, but also in how carefully manufacturers treat the part of products that are outsourced. That is why quality is a key advantage of French industry, it does not matter if the product was completely produced in the country or in part.
The France label is well received in many countries, especially outside of Europe. And finally, buyers are attracted by the design approach: our enterprises, thanks to a new generation of stylists who have been educated in France, have been able to renew the tradition of creative model development.
- What are the results of 2009 in France in terms of production, export, and import of shoes?
- According to the data at the end of 2009, we have about 120 factories with more than 20 employees, which produced more than 27 million pairs of shoes. The total turnover of the factories reached 900 million euros. Export is 65 million pairs, or 1,4 billion euros, compared with 2008, it fell by 4%. Imports also decreased by 4%, amounting to 3,9 billion euros.
- What is the share of exports to Russia? Which countries are major in terms of sales?
- For French enterprises, Russia is a market with great growth potential, even if supply volumes have now decreased due to the crisis. Russia takes the 15th place in terms of purchases, or 5% of all French shoe exports. Last year, shoes worth 16 million euros were delivered to Russia, compared with 2008, exports fell by 15%. In the future, Russia will be one of the main markets outside Europe, followed by the United States and Japan (for reference, the cost of French shoes sold outside the EU countries is 335 million euros). However, the European Union has been and remains the main market: three out of four pairs for export are sold there.
- Does the shoes intended for export differ from those sold domestically?
- No, from the point of view of design there are no differences, but serious export requires more stringent selection of models. Despite the fact that the collections are the same, the “20/80 principle” makes adjustments. Simply put: most of the created models enter the French market with minimal financial risk, while for the Russian market we try to choose a slightly different product that more expresses the French style.
- How do you evaluate the results of participation in the current MosShoes exhibition? Can you compare the presentation of French companies about the Russian market after the very first MosShoes exhibition and now?
- In general, we are very pleased with our fourth participation in the MosShoes exhibition. The number of French exhibitors is increasing every year. Of course, for beginners, the results are not always satisfactory, because participation in the exhibition is a medium-term investment that does not bear fruit immediately. But we are confident that over time, French manufacturers will be able to better adapt their products to meet the expectations of Russian buyers, while maintaining their own style, or, as we call it, “French touch”.
- What development strategy does the Association offer French manufacturers?
- The Federation provides collective promotion of brands on the Russian market - this contributes to a uniform perception of the French style, increases the recognition of the Made in France product, from which several segments with vivid identification will subsequently be distinguished.
- Does the state support shoe production? If supported, how - by taxes, credit subsidies?
- More recently, the French government has realized the particular importance of the footwear industry - not for the labor market and the country's turnover, but rather for the transfer of production experience and territorial planning, which require government support. Last fall, for the first time, a seminar was held to which representatives of the leather industry were invited to determine the possibility of joint action at different levels and between different industries. Priority tasks were developed: strengthening the creative potential of professions, creating creative centers at factories, founding a financial organization that could support enterprises in the fashion industry.
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