As a mantra, the Italians during the Milan exhibition MICAM repeated two phrases: “You have to be more professional”, “You have to be more creative”. Who needs creative when everyone is buying basic models? What does the professionalism of retailers mean from the point of view of manufacturers? With what results did Italian companies end 2008 and what do they expect in 2009? What's going on with Russian orders? These questions are answered by the most important players in the Italian footwear sector
Vito Artioli, owner of Artioli, president of the Italian shoe manufacturers association ANCI:
- In reality, we began to feel the crisis only a few months ago. Yes, we are recording a downturn in the economy. To resist it, we need to remember about the two main advantages of Italians - specialization and qualifications - and teach the young about these basic competencies of our shoe makers. For this, we constantly hold trilateral meetings during the MICAM exhibition with the participation of students, employers and government officials.
In the 2015 year, participants in our I Love Italian Shoes children's contest will become active buyers, and now you can and should think about how to attract their attention. That is why ANCI begins promoting the Made in Italy product on youtube, which is why the new site was launched. It is clear that this is an investment in the future and they will not bring immediate results.
The results of this season and at least some clear prospects for the next winter will be clear a few months after the Moscow exhibition.
Italian companies are growing orders in South America, in the countries of Mercosur. This suggests that we are looking for new markets, we are not sitting idly by. But more efforts must be made to unite, Italians are individualists, sometimes it bothers us. We can have positive results in the 2009 year. Not necessarily, but we can !!!
Angelo Gianini, President Angelo Gianini, Vice President ANCI:
- Last year 2008, our company ended with growth. We have many new customers in Russia and the CIS, primarily in the regions - in Makhachkala, Novosibirsk, and Baku. We have been working for Europe for a long time, so we have long had competitive prices. And the price is of particular importance now. We have been working with Russia for many years, for some time we left your country, but last year we decided to return. We increase marketing costs in your country and focus on the assortment: Angelo Gianini is not so much an evening model shoe as comfortable and elegant. Our second Donna Serena line is for younger girls. I would define our direction as sport chic. This is not special sports shoes, these are shoes that can emphasize that its owner is mobile and dynamic. Shoes are only available in Italy, in the same factories, about 600 pairs per day. For 2008, the collection has changed very much, the number of heel shoes has decreased. By the way, for Russians, convenience is becoming an increasingly important criterion for choice, before your women paid more attention to design.
Russian orders are very much affected by the change in the ruble exchange rate against the euro. Clients are forced to consider more carefully, however, in Russia they really like the Made in Italy product, therefore, as your entrepreneurs say, they will not refuse to buy Italian shoes.
I believe that there are three things that can survive a crisis: research, research, and research again. A crisis is a great opportunity to change both the product and the perception of customers. Therefore, we now invest a lot in communications - both at the level of my own company, and at the level of ANCI. For a year and a half of work, we have done a lot to promote the exhibition “Shoes. The world of leather. " At the international level, we continue the Golden Italy program. We have planned for the year a large program of presentations in other countries and participation in foreign exhibitions.
I think the 2009 year will be the year of selection - both manufacturers and sellers. What will be the selection criteria? You have to be more professional. It is natural. Yes, working with small factories is not always easy, but the flexibility of Italian companies is a great advantage of small businesses.
What does professionalism mean for store owners? There must be a balance of three things: product, price, city. If the brand is well represented in the windows, it is easily recognizable. If it is recognizable, they buy it. Now many Italian companies are developing Shop-in-Shop concepts, I think this is very reasonable, because manufacturers should also be responsible for how their brand is presented in stores. Professionalism of sellers, on the one hand, is to be closer to customers, on the other hand, is to carefully choose suppliers. There are thousands of manufacturers in Italy alone. It is necessary to look closely at new ones, be more attentive, curious, and include a search instinct. The category of the product you are working with is very important. It seems to me that stores that have everything - men's, women's and children's shoes, and accessories - will be less successful than stores that work in depth in some niche. The mix stops working, in the next few years, a niche product has more chances.
If we talk about the choice between a single brand and a multi-brand, then, in my opinion, the best option is a multi-brand 4-5 brands. It is difficult to work with 50 suppliers, but risky with one. Prices in the 2009 year will rise. Unfortunately, this does not depend on the product and its manufacturers, external factors will influence the growth to a greater extent.
Franco Ballin, President, Franco Ballin, Vice President, ANCI:
- Last year ended positively. To overcome the current difficulties, we are now paying maximum attention to product research. 60% of shoes are exported from Franco Ballin, of which the share of Russian customers is 50%. 2009 year, according to our calculations, will be the most difficult. In this situation, in our opinion, it is necessary to stimulate the buyer new, new and new. In our collection, the softest leather shoes will be new.
Andrea Brotini, co-owner of Pakerson, vice president of ANCI:
- Last 2008 year ended with 20% growth, so for us it was extremely wonderful. At the beginning of this year, I can say that the decline in orders is minimal, and that is typical - in Italy, the crisis is felt less than in Russia. I attribute this to a change in the ruble exchange rate; it is it that creates the greatest difficulties. Especially to support Russian retail partners, we are increasing the marketing budget in Russia.
We have already opened six monobrands in Russia, four in Kazakhstan. At the beginning of 2009, another mono-brand was opened in Yekaterinburg, at the end of April we will open a store in Kemerovo. If Russian partners are interested, we will open further. Fortunately, all Russian partners are alive and well and say that our shoes are very suitable for shops.
There is a slight decrease in the number of orders from multi-brand stores. But this decrease is expected.
We produce 200 thousand pairs a year, of which 30-35% goes to Russia. Compared to last year, we did not change prices, we maintain the previous level of quality of materials and sewing.
Last year, women's shoes became the most successful line for us. Traditionally, Pakerson sewed men's shoes, not so long ago we started the production of a women's line and are now very pleased with this undertaking. If earlier in the collection there were only 12-15 base models, now we are increasing their number to 23.
We invest in the product, in market research, consumer demand and expect 2009 to be a good year. In 2008, we opened a showroom in Moscow for eight Tuscan enterprises of shoes, clothes and bags, experience will be deepened and expanded.
Jimmy Baldinini, owner of Baldinini:
- Last year, the turnover of our company reached 100 million euros, including shoes of the first and second lines, clothes, accessories (perfumes, glasses, umbrellas). As a result, the year ended with 35% growth. What is the secret to success? Famous, serious brand. Beautiful collection. Reasonable prices.
Which line was more successful last year is hard to say. There are a lot of lines, everyone willingly buys. We expect that the 2009 year will be more difficult than last, the crisis is still felt. I am sure that in order to live and survive it, one must be more courageous, one must be able to reasonably take risks - both manufacturers and merchants. We hope that our collection is wide, diverse, creative and will be in demand.
For us, Russia is the number one market. We have been working here for 25 years, we came here one of the first. During this time, a network of 50 stores was created, including franchised ones.
Of course, the ruble greatly influences the situation in Russian trade. Unfortunately, this does not depend on us. But in the end, course leaps are not forever. What saddens me is something else: your lack of professionalism. You are not in love with your work like Italians. Even the owners of their own business. For a quarter of a century, I could not understand why you are so careless about your time and natural resources. Is it really so hard to seal windows in winter? And do not say that it is not related to business. How frivolously you relate to resources, how frivolously you relate to business. Do not be offended, just think about it for a second. What all entrepreneurs need now: to be in love with their business, to be ready to work a lot and in a disciplined way. And all will be well. Russia was and remains the first market not only for us, but for all manufacturers of fashionable products. You feel fashion, you feel style. You just have to be a little to yourself and to others.
Annarita Maria Pilotti, owner of Loriblu:
- The previous 2008 year we worked perfectly. Today we feel a certain decline in sales, but customers come and continue to place orders. According to Russian orders, I can say that in terms of volume they have not practically changed. This is an important fact for us, because of the total production volume, 80% is exported from us, and about 60% of the total export volume is sold to Russia. In the past season, elegant women's shoes were the best-selling, this is our strong point. I am sure that they will be in demand this year as well.
Gabriele Grandini, Managing Director of Siport Barbie:
- Our end customers are not so sensitive to changes in the work of banks, their children are growing, and they continue to buy clothes and shoes for them. Another question is that now manufacturers need to be interested in issues of merchandising and promoting their brand in stores - how shoes are displayed, how well the seller knows its features. A store is a place where a product meets a customer, and this process needs to be controlled. Another important point: your communication with customers should be consistent. It seems to me that now you should not rush to offer anti-crisis discounts, bonuses and everything else, it is much more important that your advertising is consistent - the same appeal to customers in the store, on sites, in the print media, in outdoor advertising. Much attention now needs to be paid to window-dressing - to change the design at least twice a month, at least partially. It is important to remain active in advertising and brand promotion. If we talk about the prospects of 2009 of the year, then I am optimistic. Children continue to be born. And they need to be shoeed.
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