Portuguese footwear flies high in foreign marketsGrowing industry and export at +55% from 2010 to today. At the top of a golden moment, Luis Onofre becomes the new President of Apiccaps: during the day of his inauguration, we asked him some questions regarding his goals and agenda.
It’s something everyone is starting to notice: at sector fairs, it is increasingly common to hear the Portuguese language spoken. In Italy, Lusitanian companies have by now become the first in the classification of foreign exhibitors to participate in the MICAM, and are also the first among European exhibitors at Expo Riva Schuh. Keeping pace with the stronger presence and competitiveness of its firms, the Portuguese industry is stringing together a series of new records: there is a rise in production, in exports – in a countertrend to the rest of Europe – and even in the number of businesses and employees.
With 200 new businesses and an additional 9,238 jobs created over the last 5 years, today, the industry of the country boasts of 1,834 companies and 45,164 workers. More than 90% of its production is destined for international markets: more than 81 million pairs for a value that touched 2,250 million euros in 2016. With an overall growth of 55% registered between 2010 and today, it is recording double-digit increases in traditional markets and triple-digit uptrends in non-traditional ones – like the United Arab Emirates, the USA, Australia, and Poland – not to mention its four-digit increases, as is the case with China.
At the top of what is a golden moment in history for the sector, Luis Onofre becomes the new President of Apiccaps, the Portuguese Footwear, Components and Leather Goods Manufacturers’ Association, taking on the role of guiding the Portuguese footwear industry towards new and important milestones.
Forty-five years old and the third generation of a family working in the footwear industry, Luis Onofre produces elegant women’s footwear with the brand bearing his name, exporting 93% of them to countries all over the world. His shoes can be found on the feet of stars and celebrities like Naomi Watts, Penelope Cruz, and Michelle Obama.
During the day of his inauguration, we asked him some questions regarding his goals and agenda for Apiccaps.
Fortunato Frederico leaves you a strong association and a flourishing industry: how will you carry his mandate forward? What are the goals that you are going to achieve on a national and international level?
First of all, it is a pleasure to succeed to a businessman of reference, as Mr. Fortunato Frederico. He was Apiccaps President for 18 years and the Portuguese Footwear Industry had a remarkable development in that period. The Portuguese businessmen are very grateful to him and his dedication. So, taking up this role as President of Apiccaps after him is a great challenge and a great responsibility. I hope to continue the good work developed by Mr. Fortunato Frederico and help making the Portuguese footwear industry an international reference. The focus on new markets, especially non-European countries; making the Portuguese industry one of the most modern in the world under the Industry 4.0 strategies and the attraction of a new generation of talented young people are my team most immediate objectives.
Portuguese footwear exports have risen for seven consecutive years: what are the next goals at an international level? What are the next markets?
We want to continue to deepen our presence in the main European markets. At the same time, we believe there is a lot of potential for growth in countries such as the US, Japan or China. We will continue to undertake strong external promotion campaigns, with more than 200 companies participating in over 60 events all over the world every year.
Portuguese footwear are renowned for their quality, style and affordable price: in which way will you promote their values?
Portuguese footwear distinguishes itself in the international markets by its combination of tradition and accumulated know-how over decades with the most modern technologies. Portuguese footwear has design, quality, good value for money and fundamentally an outstanding service: our industry has the ability to quickly respond to the demands of international markets. In this field, we are probably world leaders already.
Research and development, industry 4.0: how will Apiccaps face these issues?
We have a very ambitious project in this area. We want to be faster, more efficient and get closer and closer to the consumer. To achieve this, we plan to invest approximately 50 million euros over the next four or five years.
Promotion at international fairs: what will be the agenda of Apiccaps and Portuguese footwear? Will there be novelties, new initiatives?
We will have more than 200 companies participating in the most relevant footwear events all over the world. In addition to a strong presence in major European events such as Expo Riva Schuh, Gallery Shoes, the MICAM or MOMAD, we will strengthen our presence in other events in Japan, the US and Latin America. Even though Portuguese footwear already reaches 152 countries in five continents, we believe that we still have significant potential for growth in non-EU markets.