A path of discovery, passion and tenacity is the basis of the success of Relaxshoe Srl, a company based in Verona that has conquered international markets with its comfort and casual shoes that also look to style. Its history has its roots in the sixties, when Gianfranco Modenese creates the trading company Modenese Srl Creazioni Luca Shoe and makes it grow to become one of the leading companies in Italy exporting comfort and wellness footwear, boots and plastic sandals in markets such as Germany, Scandinavia and the United Arab Emirates. Strengthened by this experience, in 1984 Gianfranco Modenese embraces the Relaxshoe project, giving life to the first comfort footwear collection for women: it is only the first stage in the success story of a brand destined to conquer international markets. The following year, also Galmod Srl joins the Relaxshoe brand, specialising in the production of injection-moulded plastic footwear becoming an important reality of the private label in just a few years, and boasting important collaborations with well-known international brands thanks to the flexible offer, marked by innovation and evolution in the search for materials, shapes and colours.
Mr. Modenese, what are the features of Relaxshoe and Galmod footwear?
“As for the production of leather items, intended for women, we mainly focus on producing comfortable shoes, taking into account fashion. As for the production of rain boots, après-ski boots and garden clogs for men, women and children, we aim instead to present items with bright and up-to-date colours”.
Sustainability is one of the key values of Relaxshoe's proposal, how is it expressed?
“In terms of energy, in Italy we are 100% green: in Italy the plants are powered by our photovoltaic system of 100 Kwh and, for the remaining needs, with the purchase of green energy. The thermal insulation of offices and warehouses and the use of LED lights enable to reduce energy consumption which, in the factories in Bosnia, is further lowered thanks to the adoption of a new refrigeration system and latest generation injection machinery.
In 2020, to offset the CO2 emissions of our business, we purchased Carbon Credits which allowed us to finance a wind farm in Turkey and a reforestation in Tanzania. We also promoted the awareness campaign “Love our planet” with the decalogue of the actions that can be taken to reduce one's CO2 footprint.
How did the pandemic impact your activity and turnover?
“As everyone else, we have had a significant drop in sales, around -23%. A percentage that, without the support of the digital channel, would have been higher. In these difficult months, digital has been a fundamental tool to continue to remain close to our customers and presenting new proposals. Furthermore, in periods of lockdown, with closed shops and blocked sales, our e-commerce has allowed us to continue working, achieving positive results giving growth to what we have sown in the past.
The pandemic has also affected the supply chain, and we have seen slowdowns in deliveries and a substantial increase in the cost of raw materials”.
Due to the pandemic, consumers are choosing ever more comfort products: do you believe this trend will affect your sales?
“During the pandemic, this trend did not promote comfort footwear, but rather the home footwear that we produce to a very limited extent and only for the summer season. I believe that in the future the growth driver of comfort and well-being footwear will be rather driven by demographic aging: people in the 50-60 age bracket are attentive and buy comfortable dress shoes. And if they reflect fashion trends, such as our product, there is a greater propensity to buy and also target customers expand, including other age groups”.
How are you preparing yourself for the recovery and what is your vision of the footwear market's future?
“We know that the challenge that awaits us in the coming months will be tough. I believe that at first the market will orient itself towards running out of stock – millions of unsold pairs – and will only buy a few new items, just to have a recall in the shop windows. At a later time, if the vaccination campaign gives its results, it will really be possible to turn the page and gradually return to normalcy.
We are used to fighting and will continue to present targeted and competitive proposals to our customers, trying to respond to market demands. To do this, we will slowly go back to the beginning: visit customers to collect sensations in the field, discuss problems, collaborate with them and find solutions to grow together. Of course, trade fairs will also play a decisive role in the future ”.