Home Business Portugal’s shoemakers swap from fancy to cozy to outlive pandemic

Portugal’s shoemakers swap from fancy to cozy to outlive pandemic


© Reuters. The unfold of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) in Guimaraes


By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira

FELGUEIRAS, Portugal (Reuters) – Weddings have been postponed, cocktail events cancelled and work occasions changed by video calls. With social gatherings severely curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic, individuals have been shopping for far fewer footwear.

That has hit Portugal’s footwear business laborious, as a result of it specialises in high-end leather-based footwear – usually reserved for large events and formal work settings – and most are exported.

“There aren’t any nightclubs, no {couples} going out … all of this implies cuts in sure merchandise,” stated Joao Maia, common supervisor of Portugal’s footwear affiliation APICCAPS.

Some corporations have switched to creating extra comfy footwear to be used round the home or within the grocery store. A couple of have added masks and different security gear to their manufacturing traces.

However the modifications will not make up for the entire losses. Between January and August this yr, exports from Portugal – Europe’s third largest footwear producer after Italy and Spain – slumped round 17% from the identical interval in 2019.

Portugal exports greater than 90% of its footwear and the sector has grown round 50% in the course of the previous decade, incomes 1.7 billion euros final yr after a 2017 peak of 1.9 billion euros.

Producers are having to adapt to outlive.

Paulo Martins, a accomplice at male shoe model Formidable, stated that in the course of the first lockdown his firm began specializing in footwear for staying house or gardening.

“Individuals who used to decorate up and placed on extra formal footwear are actually working from house and … need a extra comfy product,” Martins stated at his manufacturing facility in northern Portugal, the place a lot of the nation’s practically 1,500 shoe companies are positioned.

“Preferences are altering and that can have main repercussions on our enterprise.”


Others, like ToWorkFor, made much more radical modifications.

The corporate, which specialises in security footwear for the development business and different sectors, remodeled certainly one of its manufacturing traces to make face masks and is creating different merchandise.

“The pandemic opened our horizons,” stated Orlando Andrade, head of promoting at ToWorkFor.

“If one thing optimistic got here out of this pandemic, it’s that it made us take a look at actuality another way, see potential the place we did not see it earlier than as a result of we have been in our consolation zone.”

Regardless of the innovation and suppleness, producers count on to see their order books shrink.

“The amount of orders that we have now now is not going to be sufficient to resist the whole manufacturing interval,” stated Martins.

He additionally has to deal with a rise in workers sick days because of the pandemic, which may drive the corporate to shut certainly one of its two shoe manufacturing traces.

Luxurious shoe designer Luis Onofre, whose creations have been worn by celebrities together with Naomi Watts and Paris Hilton, stated a lot of his purchasers cancelled their orders when the pandemic hit.

“Perhaps individuals bought used to being at house a little bit extra,” Onofre advised Reuters in his showroom, as staff assembled excessive heeled footwear within the manufacturing facility under the place the odor of leather-based and glue lingered within the air.

He described the pandemic as a “scary interval” for the luxurious shoe enterprise.

Shoe manufacturers like Onofre’s primarily depend on gala’s overseas to promote merchandise to purchasers, however most have been cancelled. And, with much less clientele than ordinary, 70% of factories opted to cease manufacturing between March and Might, in line with APICCAPS.

“It is going to be extraordinarily tough for the style business as a result of in the course of the summer season shopkeepers virtually did not promote,” Onofre stated. “They’re overstocked. If this goes on and so they accumulate extra it could possibly be the top of many corporations.”


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