European Economy Top of Mind at The Micam

MILAN — The uneven economic recovery in Europe is prompting many international footwear companies to alter their strategies, according to key players interviewed at Micam here last week.

Micam President Cleto Sagripanti, who owns Italian Holding Moda (IHM), said he was building a portfolio of made-in-Italy brands to capture different market segments and exploit group synergies for the supply chains.

Sagripanti said he was concerned that European retailers were reluctant to strike multi-season agreements with suppliers to speed up delivery response times in the way U.S. retailers do.

Luca Ferrari, owner of Effegi — the Italian shoemaker behind Canguru and Freemood brands — closed its women’s and children’s lines over the past several years to concentrate on more-profitable men’s shoes. Ferrari said his company is now “contemplating” moving production back to Europe from India to reduce response times for retailers.

Bonis, the Italian shoemaker that holds the U.S. Polo Assn. license for Europe, is expanding its product range and adding distribution in northern Europe, which has better credit conditions and faster payments than in southern Europe, said President Augusto Bonetto.

In fact, the firm severed ties with a number of southern European clients last year due to credit issues. While sales are edging up slightly this year, the company will more likely not return to growth until 2015, he added.

For their part, buyers at Micam said unusual weather has proven to be a major hazard for retail sales in the last 12 months, especially for northern and eastern Europe.

Unseasonably warm weather in autumn impacted winter shoe sales in the Netherlands, triggering a local price war among retailers, reported Nico Taphoorn, managing director of Taft-Oscar, a store in Hoofddorp. The cozy temperatures also drove down boot sales in Bulgaria, said Pepina Madjarova, who runs nine designer shoe stores that sell brands such as Casadei, Calvin Klein and Roberto Cavalli.

Rain then hampered summer business. But when the sun came out in mid-August, “sales boomed,” Taphoorn added.

Enzo Auciello, owner of the Brussels store Y-Enzo, said he is overcoming weather woes by relying more on e-commerce.

Auciello added that, at the show, he was looking for eye-catching, creative product, but found too many conservative styles instead.

“Everything is aimed at economy. [Suppliers] go for the sure thing,” he lamented.

Roberto Zecchini, a buyer from the Bologna, Italy-based store Michel Calzature, said comfort continues to be key for consumers, with customers gravitating toward lower heels and flats. A notable exception? Casadei’s highly recognizable “bladelike” stilettos that have sold well for four years straight.

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