Let's start with the next edition: if you wanted to give it a 'title', what would it be?
Alessandra Albarelli: "We are lining a global scenario characterised by an increase in production costs for most companies, due to the conflict in Ukraine and the rise in energy and transport costs. Therefore, it is more important than ever for companies to invest in activities that can provide concrete returns. As the organisers of a leading event such as Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, we are aware that in this context the role of the trade fair is to create strong economic connections, which allow companies to make contact with new markets and potential customers and create profitable business. If we wanted to give, therefore, a title that characterises this edition compared to previous ones, I would say that it is 'a business driving event'.
What is the 'sentiment' you have gathered from the voice of companies and buyers in recent months?
Alessandra Albarelli: 'The impression we have gathered over the past few months in our contacts with exhibiting companies and buyers is that the post-pandemic emergency period, in which we drew heavily on stocks, is now over. Today, buyers – and we are also talking about large chains, as well as large-scale retail chains – are faced with the need to return to a level of orders and completeness of the collection that is typical of the pre-Covid period, and they are waiting for the time to return to the fair to find new products and a variety of models, and to place orders to meet the recovery in demand and consumption. We have therefore overcome the pandemic stalemate, and the companies, of course, have also picked up on this desire and this need of buyers to place new orders and get business off to a decisive start. For all these reasons, operators are preparing to return to Riva del Garda after the success of June with the expectation of meeting many more buyers, especially from abroad, and of placing important orders. Therefore, beyond the numbers in terms of exhibitors and visitors that will characterise this January edition of the event, we expect a growth in the transactions generated at the fair, an increase in pairs sold, and this because the big players are looking for novelty and variety that will translate into important orders".
Expo Riva Schuh has been a strongly international event since its inception: how has this concept evolved over time and what does it mean for ERS to be international today?
GianPaola Pedretti: 'At this point in time for us this means having solid and ongoing relationships in strategic countries, through a network of representatives on site, with the aim of monitoring these markets, grasping their needs and the changes taking place, and forging ongoing and solid relationships with manufacturers and buyers in these countries. Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, in fact, has set up a network of representatives in some twenty foreign countries, covering strategic areas of the world: North Africa, Turkey and the Mediterranean basin, Northern Europe, India and South East Asia, Israel and Latin America. These 'international antennas' will allow the fair to grow even more internationally, organising road shows and local events, as well as activating incoming projects to Riva del Garda".
Can you tell us more about the incoming of international buyers?
GianPaola Pedretti: 'In the next edition, the incoming activity of foreign buyers will be stepped up, with about one hundred hosted buyers, of which about twenty from new target countries, which we are focusing on because they are of particular interest for the development of the event. In addition, special attention has been given to the American market, representing which there will be a substantial delegation of selected buyers. There will be important delegations – both in terms of numbers and buyer profile – from India, with representatives from chains with over 600 sales outlets, as well as important delegations from South America (Peru, Guatemala, Uruguay), which express markets of great interest and potential. For the first time, we will also have representatives from Israel – an important market due to its spending capacity – and South East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia). Finally, buyers from traditional and target markets, such as Northern Europe, Germany and Great Britain, will of course not be missing'.
Thanks to the creation of a Scientific Committee conceived 'ad hoc', Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags is now a pioneer and leader in the selection of themes and case histories dedicated to the footwear sector. Can we say that Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags is now also an authoritative trade fair in the area of talks?
Alessandra Albarelli: 'Undoubtedly, so much so that our topics are often referred to by other trade fairs and events in the sector. And this is because the decision to create an 'ad hoc' and high-level scientific committee, which devotes itself throughout the year to selecting topics and content that are of concrete interest to the sector and that are addressed with competence and completeness, is an important service that we offer to companies and visitors, as is the work of scouting case histories that can be of help to companies. Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags thus confirms itself as a business event, but also as an opportunity for in-depth analysis and innovation at the service of companies and visitors. It is no coincidence that the work of the Scientific Committee has led to the in-depth analysis and development of topics such as sustainability and innovation with the Innovation Village Retail start-ups.
Speaking precisely of sustainability: how does Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags respond to what is now a requirement for companies, buyers and consumers?
GianPaola Pedretti: 'In the fashion industry as a whole, and not just footwear, there is now a strong focus on the issue of sustainability, which affects all markets, albeit to varying degrees. In particular, companies are increasingly committed to concrete actions to protect the environment and mankind, and to the search for truly sustainable development, especially in more mature markets, such as those in northern Europe. Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags has always anticipated and reflected the trends in the footwear market and has long been moving in this direction with concrete actions aimed at spreading the culture of sustainability. In this edition, in particular, there will be sessions dedicated to the topic of regulations and labelling, which appears very complex and differs from country to country, and in-depth sessions dedicated to the product with the presentation of some Case Histories .
Another important aspect that characterises Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags is the focus on innovation, to which a special space such as the Innovation Village Retail is dedicated. What novelties are there for the January edition?
Alessandra Albarelli: "Given the great success of past editions, the Innovation Village Retail, a 'dedicated' space that offers, every six months, a new and careful selection of young companies and start-ups that are useful and functional for innovative business development in the retail sector, will be back in January. We believe that the scouting work carried out by Retail Lab in selecting the start-ups taking part in the call for entries is of great importance for operators, not least because today the cost that companies have to bear for the innovation needed to be competitive in the global arena is increasingly high, and the changes are accelerating. The Innovation Village therefore represents a service of great added value, and not only for visitors. Start-ups and young companies that take part in the project also have an important return, because from their presence at the fair they often acquire a global outlook, with the start-up of important collaborations with leading international companies in the footwear market: so this is certainly a privileged showcase and an important springboard to the global market. Those who come to the fair and visit the Innovation Village Retail undoubtedly take home added value'.