Couromoda 2019: renewed optimismThe 46th edition of Couromoda was held from 14 to 17 January in São Paulo’s Expo Center Norte trade fair […]
The 46th edition of Couromoda was held from 14 to 17 January in São Paulo’s Expo Center Norte trade fair complex, with results that were more than reassuring, giving clear signals of optimism in a market that is returning to a trend of growth. More than 31,000 accredited professional visitors turned out (+5% over 2018, with not only Brazilian retailers, but also numerous foreign buyers from various parts of the world, rediscovering their desire to place orders). The numbers in fact speak for themselves, with the most important players in the footwear industry present to propose the trends for fall/winter, even if summer ready-to-wear fashion also played an important role. More than 2,000 collections were the protagonists of an edition, which – as already mentioned above – gave clear signals of recovery, after the last few months of 2018 and sales at Christmastime outlined a positive uptrend. The greatest confirmation of this trend arrived from the visitors who packed the halls of Expo Center Norte over the four days of the fair, with a significant increase in international visitors:
“Also at this edition, we had a strong turnout not only by Brazilian buyers, but also by foreign buyers, who arrived from all over the world. Without a doubt, it was an important edition – commented Francisco Santos, President and founder of Couromoda - characterised by a trend reversal, leading us to believe that the 2020 edition will see a significant increase both in exhibitors and exhibition areas booked. Plus, the political turnaround in Brazil allows us to believe there will be a significant improvement for the economy, also in our sector that will soon return – I am convinced – to the same levels of what were its very best moments, also thanks to the focus of the Bolsonaro government on developing trade relations with the most mature markets like the USA and Europe. At the same time, negotiations with Latin American countries must be intensified and they must be treated as if they were almost an extension of the domestic market. In other words, the 2019 economic panorama will undoubtedly be very interesting”.
Jeferson Santos, General Director of the event, comments:
Couromoda 2019 confirmed the climate of optimism and renewed trust in the market. As far as exports are concerned, buyers coming from the United Arab Emirates, the USA, Europe, Asia, and America were more than numerous, making our event even more important. The result, more often than not, was concrete orders, and not just because the Real/US$ exchange rate is particularly favourable, but also and above all because of the quality of a production – that is to say Brazilian – which is increasingly in line with fashion trends, with a correct price/quality ratio.
Taking place in conjunction with Couromoda, with its important array of bags, luggage, and costume jewellery, was São Paulo Prêt à Porter, the garment and fashion accessory fair, which is now in its seventh edition, proposing apparel in all of its many facets.
Getting back to Couromoda, it is important to underline the collaboration with Abicalçados (the Brazilian trade association of reference). Rosnei da Silva, President of Abicalçados, comments: “The footwear manufacturing industry began 2019 with an extremely positive outlook in terms of development, including uptrends in production and sales, also thanks to the new political and economic scenario resulting from the election of Jair Bolsonaro as the new President of the Republic.
A scenario that gives consumers, retailers, and manufacturers a renewed feeling of confidence when it comes to consumption, purchases, and production. All this obviously confirmed the importance and validity of this new scenario which, naturally, requires a certain amount of creativity capable of guaranteeing the exponential growth of Brazilian footwear, above all when it comes to exports”.
With regards to Couromoda, Rosnei da Silva confirms:
This event was and will always be an extremely important point of reference for the entire footwear and leather goods supply chain. There is nothing left to do but say ‘thank you’ to this event, which for 46 years has brought with it the very essence and best of our production.
Especially important at the fair was the participation of the Governor of the State of São Paulo, João Doria, who confirmed the positive phase the economy is going through and that “Couromoda represents a mandatory event for the development of the entire sector”. Doria also recalled how the presence of Couromoda in São Paulo has contributed to changing the status of the city: “When Waleska and Francisco Santos decided to move Couromoda from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo, it seemed to be complete and utter folly. And, instead, in less than three years, our city has been transformed into the Brazilian capital of fashion and it can’t help but be extremely grateful to this event, which has always been synonymous with efficiency, organisation, pragmatism, and a clear understanding of the market”.
Eduardo Leite, Governor of Rio Grande do Sul, a region that has always had an extremely strong vocation for footwear manufacturing, in confirming the optimism for a recovery in production and exports, underlined the importance of some changes that must be made to improve and make it easier for companies to do business, starting from “less bureaucracy, improved logistics, qualification of the workforce, and less fiscal pressure”.
Executive President of Abicalcados
“Over the last two years, Brazilian footwear has really struggled and I do not believe that it will succeed in its recovery during the first half of 2019. We are missing the conditions needed for this to happen, since in Brazil, 60 million people (30% of the country’s population) live on the outskirts of the consumer market and are at poverty level”.
This is how the Executive President of Abicalcados begins. At the same time, it’s important to not be misled by current conditions. Expectations, in reality, are quite different and very high: “The essential points on which the new government should focus are work and safety. If the plans currently being made were to succeed, during the second half of the year, Brazilian footwear should once again fly high… and the next few years will be positive”.
“Among the reasons for this renewed trust - underlines Heitor Klein- is the financial situation in Brazil, making it different from other countries in difficulty. First and foremost, are the foreign exchange reserves that protect Brazil from speculative attacks”.
Another element that could play in our favour is the trade war between the USA and China, which could open up new and interesting opportunities for a greater number of Brazilian footwear exports towards North America.
Is there something in particular the Brazilian Footwear Industries Association is demanding from the new government that has been in power since the beginning of January?
“Since the new government’s policy will be to open up the Brazilian economy even more and significantly reduce customs duties on imports – they clearly told us to prepare ourselves, because the tariff barriers could decrease from 35% to only 20-18% - we ask, in exchange, that they implement measures that increase the competitiveness of Brazilian companies, which up until today, have been crushed by high production costs resulting from high tax rates, the costs of labour, loan rates, and inefficient logistics. We trust that this new pathway could resolve a good part of these problems”.
Project Manager of Abicalcados
During Couromoda, the feeling of great optimism expressed by buyers and exhibitors, especially by those coming from foreign markets, allows us to hope that this will just be the beginning of many new projects in the works for Abicalcados.
Roberta Ramos explains:
The next foreign markets on which I would like to focus our promotional actions, which are coordinated with APEX, are Peru, and the brand new markets of Saudi Arabia and South Korea. We will begin, as always, with a cognitive survey that will allow us to study the best solutions for promoting Brazilian footwear in these countries.
Among the markets always in the sights of the world of Brazilian shoes is of course the United States: “We noted an interesting rise in the number of regional and niche fairs, and so we will support our producers so they can access these events (Miami, Chicago and Atlanta, for example). Obviously, we will not abandon national events like Platform and we will work a lot on branding and the image of Brazilian footwear brands, focusing also on American influencers, as already done in the past during the Coachella Festival”.
And in Europe? “Sector fairs like MICAM Milan and Expo Riva Schuh will remain central. Over the next few months, we will continue to work on the English market to convince its distribution, which is very conservative, to try new Brazilian brands, thus satisfying the demands of consumers who, according to our studies, are quite open to new proposals and fresher and more colourful brands.
We will also try to penetrate France, our third market of reference where we work a lot with private labels, with Brazilian brands”.
Not to be forgotten of course is the Orient: “We have been in China for 10 years and we worked hard to arrive at our important online presence today, which is also subsidised by the Chinese government that has accredited some foreign platforms, allowing them to now work in its territory. We will create a store of Brazilian footwear on the platform we have been collaborating with for the last couple of years. We are selecting 3/5 brands to start with. It is a very costly investment, but we are convinced that if it works, it will bring enormous benefits to Brazilian footwear”.
The opinion of international buyers
Diversified offering, quality, fashion content, and comfort: these are the main features that international buyers search for and find at Couromoda.
It is confirmed by Aiganym Zhumakmet (Intertop - Kazakhstan), who represents a chain of 16 multibrand stores that sell men’s-women’s-children’s footwear, a special guest at the fair thanks to the Projeto Comprador Vip initiative financed by Apex and organised by Abicalçados:
At the fair, I browsed the footwear trends, raw materials, and designs that will be in the windows of our stores starting next season. It is the first time I’ve ever come to São Paulo: Couromoda was a wonderful surprise. I will definitely return.
Fifty, instead, is the number of stores represented by Nugzar Berishvili, Marketing Manager of ICR TRADE (Georgia), who returned to Couromoda after a number of years:
We buy a lot in Italy, but Brazil is already a rather important reference for some brands by now of international scope. Couromoda itself is proof of this.
It is also the first time at the fair of American Dace Graham, Purchasing Manager for the Target group (Minneapolis - USA), a chain of around 1,800 stores, who is present in São Paulo with Marleni Morales:
We saw very interesting collections that are right for our stores. Couromoda is a magnificent event, which is well-organised with remarkable contents.
For Bolivian, Marco Oroza, from Sport Planet Couromoda is not new:
We’ve been participating for 5 years and it seems the event has improved a lot, proposing collections that are increasingly oriented towards fashion.
Representing the Ferratti brand’s 6 stores for men and women, not just fashion, but also the right price/quality ratio is the perfect formula for Ecuadorians Pablo Ramirez, Tatiana Vega and Santiago Teran, who are considered part of the event’s ‘extremely loyal’ base of participants, with their 15-plus years of attendance.
From Columbia, instead, are Mario and Lorenzo Hernandez representing their self-named stores: 40 stores dedicated to leather goods, footwear, belts, and travel items:
The Brazilian product is increasingly high quality. Here, at Couromoda, we only buy footwear and the fair is an excellent showcase.
From the United States, instead, arrive Juan Haro and Ana Martinez:
From Miami, we distribute Brazilian brands and footwear of primary importance. We are very satisfied with this edition of Couromoda, which gave clearly positive signals.
Deysi and Ronald Orellana Villaroel, who have always participated in the São Paulo event, agree on the positive signals.
For Alex Cespedes and Judith Callau, also from Bolivia and representing 5 DUDU stores specialised in children’s footwear:
Brazilian children’s footwear production offers guarantees of the highest quality, which is extremely important for developing feet.
Finally, there is the opinion of Peter Mangione, a veteran of the event:
This year it seemed to me that the atmosphere had improved compared to previous editions: without a doubt, the market is moving towards a clear recovery also – obviously - thanks to a production that is increasingly fashion-oriented and high quality.
General Director of Couromoda
Couromoda 2019 proved itself to be the best edition of the last 4 years. Above all, the first 2 days of the fair were witness to an excellent turnout by qualified buyers.
“The good news - underlines Jeferson Santos – is the renewed optimism of buyers and retailers, which allows us to hope for an uptrend in purchases over the course of 2019, which could even arrive at around +5%”.
For the General Director of Couromoda, the excellent trend in sales at Christmastime also showed itself to be very important, with the warehouses of retailers emptied of their stock, thus allowing lots of business for summer re-stockings to be done at the fair. Online sales also did well. During the same 2018 Christmas period, in fact, they recorded a +13% over the previous year.
I believe that this widespread optimism will lead to benefits also for the next edition of Couromoda. If, today, we have already booked most of the exhibition areas from 2019, we expect there will be further growth, also thanks to the return of some important brands like Skechers.
To support this realistic optimism, during the second half of 2019, Couromoda will make very important investments in the renewal of its image and improved communication, while strengthening ties with buyers and retailers, thus providing incentive for their presence and participation at the 2020 edition.