“My father, before me, has always focused on manufacturing quality. First of all – he used to say – shoes need to be comfortable, but they also should be beautiful. This principle guided and guides my children and me still today”. This is how Marcello Marcaccio, owner of Comart, a historic company based in Porto Sant’Elpidio, presents the values at the heart of the shoe factory located in the Marche region.
Since 1955 Comart has been producing women’s shoes suitable for everyday life, for free time but also for the most important occasions in life. The company has its roots in the heart of the Fermo footwear district, in the Marche region, where it owns two production plants where the entire production is carried out. A made in Italy of undisputed quality.
What are Comart’s current prospects?
“We have been on the market since 1955. I took over from my father 32 years ago, together with my wife, and twenty years ago also the third generation, my children Pamela and Manolo, started taking been part of it.
We are struggling to keep our tradition alive, to relaunch it after the difficulties after the pandemic. As I said, we have always dedicated ourselves to comfortable ladies’ shoes, but we are evolving to meet the changing market needs and create collections that are not just comfortable, but that also feature a more youthful and trendy style and look. Today, even a 60 or 70 year old lady wants to wear the same fit as a woman in her thirties. We must find the right middle way that ensures a good and comfortable fit, but with a fresh and trendy taste. This obviously complicates the work: if years ago in the modelling department one person was enough to manage the work load, today it takes at least four employees”.
What are the critical issues that most influence your work?
“Having created and sold with a price list that today risks not being well balanced. At this moment, all suppliers are trying to raise prices due to the objective difficulties in supplying raw materials.
A problem that does not just reverberate on the economic side, but also on that of production times. Today, if you call your sole supplier, you are lucky if half of your needs get satisfied. He may require eight weeks (4 more than the standard) to fulfill your order, with no guarantees on price and actual delivery. A situation that generates profound problems throughout the production phase: we risk having all the uppers ready to fulfill an order and not being able to pass them to assembly, dissatisfying our customers and risk that orders are cancelled when half of the work has already been done.
It obviously is not the suppliers’ fault. It is a paradoxical situation. You are almost angry given that after 3 seasons of suffering, this fourth one we are entering has seen orders increase, because of the various international logistics difficulties, and we risk not being able to satisfy them”.
What markets make you hope best for a good recovery?
“Our historical markets are – in addition to Italy which absorbs a good 60% of production – the United States, Northern Europe, China and Japan.
A focused photograph from the pre-pandemic period. Unfortunately, now it is as if there had been a full reset of everything, starting from scratch, even for Italy, where various distribution realities are in great difficulty. The selection of customers itself has become difficult, if you also consider that now credit insurers do not mess around anymore. They are very careful, and have begun to remove some companies from their coverage, leaving the risk of working with some customers entirely on us”.
Have you ever had to face such complex situations?
“In the many years of work that I have behind me there have been many not so beautiful, but anyway transitory moments; mistakes have been made which, as right, we have paid for; but never have I witnessed such a long period of crisis, in which we have not done anything wrong, and in which we just have to get the money out. We suddenly found ourselves in a swamp that almost completely immobilised us”.
The market changes, the needs of customers change … how has work in the company changed?
“We are constantly striving to renew ourselves to innovate. Over the years we have implemented various technologies updating existing ones (soon, for example, we will have two new cutting tables).
We have invested in a beautiful brand, like Donna Serena. A brand that I have been admiring for some time.
We are investing in a collection with a sustainability theme and largely made with recycled and recyclable materials. A line that we will probably present during the next edition of Expo Riva Schuh”.
Speaking of fairs, how do you evaluate their prospects?
“Before Covid, Riva del Garda has always represented a very, very important appointment for us. The last edition was, as everyone expected, far below the standard, but it was done above all to send a positive signal, as if to give itself a boost and start over. We obviously would have appreciated greater economic flexibility from the fair, because coming to meet us would have been very convenient, but we understand the difficult moment that affects everyone. I am confident that the interest we have found in the September fairs can also be found again at the beginning of next season at Expo Riva Schuh. We all very much hope so.
I exclude, however, that in the next few years, perhaps even 7 or 10 years, we will return to pre-pandemic levels. And maybe we will never go back to the way it was before (which is not necessarily a bad thing), because the whole system is actually changing. Let’s face it, where does it say that at the end of each year the registers need to be filled in with a plus sign. Also remaining stable can be positive”.