Made in Italy returns and sets its sights on Russia and the CIS areaItalian exports return to a trend of growth in Russia and the CIS area: we speak of it with Arturo Venanzi and Marino Fabiana
Having put the difficult two-year period of 2014-15 behind it, Made in Italy footwear has returned to a trend of growth in Russia and the CIS markets. In 2016, although Made in Italy made a tentative comeback with +13.2% in quantity, only a negative -3.3% in value was recorded. Instead, at the beginning of 2017, the recovery was much stronger, as seen by the Italian export data for the first five months of the year: +29% in volume and +14.3% in value. During the same period, in Russia alone, Made in Italy exported 2.8 million pairs of footwear for a value equal to 150 million euros, which is respectively +33.5% and +17.2% when compared to the same period last year: certainly, we are still far from the record numbers of 2013, but nevertheless a step in the right direction has been taken. Notwithstanding the markets in this part of the world have once again restarted their engines, the panorama and the rules have changed in the meantime.
We speak of this with two sector experts, Arturo Venanzi, Assocalzaturifici Councillor for the Russian market, and Marino Fabiani, Assocalzaturifici Councillor for the CIS countries.
How have the Russian and CIS markets changed? “Russia is no longer the market of the past: today, it has been restructured and by now presents all the characteristics of a mature market, – replies Arturo Venanzi – open to the competition of international players and more difficult to approach under your own steam. In other words, the cake has gotten smaller and only the most organized businesses can maintain their slice of it. As far as the most successful product is concerned, it is without a doubt the high-end range of Made in Italy: the most expensive range did not feel the effects of the crisis and even gained new shares. The mid-range instead preferred a strategy of lowering its prices in order to stay competitive on the market”.
“The buyer that typically buys our product has slowly moved towards purchasing solutions that are less expensive to the detriment of the quality – adds Marino Fabiani, extending his explanation to also include the rest of the CIS area – We have witnessed a loss of demand to products and manufacturers that propose inexpensive collections. Accordingly, the answer of our sector was and continues to be, from a number of viewpoints, brilliant: trying to offer a new kind of product that reunites in all of its characteristics the features that were previously satisfied by two or more different products. In other words, a shoe that is suited to both daytime and eveningwear, with characteristics that include practicality, comfort, elegance, and sophistication. All at the same time, without penalizing the quality of the materials, at a price that is increasingly competitive. It is easy to understand just how complicated this all is in terms of research and finances…”
Based on the sector’s data and the sentiments expressed by the markets, what are your expectations for the future? “Our expectation is that Russia will become stable and start over, completely overcoming the last two years of crisis. – declares Arturo Venanzi – We strongly believe in this market – in fact confirms Arturo Venanzi – and we will continue to invest in it not only with the organization of Obuv, which will present its next edition with a new layout and new image, but also through special initiatives. Like, for example, the mapping of Russian retail conducted in collaboration with ICE Moscow, or the incoming services aimed at Russian buyers at the editions of Obuv and the MICAM….”.
“There is a renewed interest from an entire geographical region, which, after the political and economic turmoil of recent years, chose alternative sourcing channels that no longer rewarded the prestige and quality typical of Made in Italy. – adds Marino Fabiani – The rediscovered enthusiasm for future growth and the positivity demonstrated by this range of clientele allows us to have a moderate level of optimism for the coming seasons, where we can think about increasing the turnover and forging new commercial partnerships, while also recovering former partnerships lost over the years because of the above-mentioned political-economic instability”.