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Porto: the world capital of footwear

01 Jun 2018

News Porto: the world capital of footwear
The most important World Footwear Congress was largely successful. Over the course of one week, 541 professionals of the sector, from 33 countries, were gathered in Oporto.
According to Yves Morin, “it was an amazing congress”. For the President of UITIC (The International Union of Shoe Industry Technicians), the “20th UITIC’s Congress was amazing due to its record number of delegates, by the fantastic visits to the companies and by the high quality of the panels, speeches and presentations”. Overall, “the Congress has absolutely achieved its goals of being the international «Think Tank» of the footwear industry”.

Over 30 speakers

The future of the footwear industry at international level was the point of discussion of the 20th UITIC’s Congress. “New products and new services linked to the customers’ needs”, “Smart development and production”, “Sustainability, transparency in the supply chain and regulatory trends that influence the factories” and “Man-centered factories and new ways of management” were the themes highlighted this year. The intervention of Maarten Oonk, from Deloitte, was one of the most awaited. “We can say the final customer assumes an increasingly important role in the industrial process. The challenge for the future is to understand the client’s desires”. For the Senior Manager of the international consulting company, “the digital technology has allowed to profoundly change the relation with the final costumer”, process that nowadays is “a lot different than what happens at a physical traditional store. Nowadays, we can go to an online store and share our tastes and preferences. If we’re able to capture this, we can optimize the whole production process, from the design to the final product, and meet the client’s needs”.

Portuguese industry on the spotlight

At the opening, the State Secretary for Industry emphasized that “Portugal is in a unique position. It's an innovative industry and strongly engaged in exports: over 95% of its production is destined to external markets and has exported over 80 million pairs of shoes in 2017”. For Ana Teresa Lehmann, the Congress’ theme -From fashion to factory: a new technological age -, “has reflected about the technology’s role as a driving force of the economy and its impact in the global industries. In this context, the Portuguese footwear industry, known as the sexiest industry in Europe, is a model of competitiveness. It’s also one of the most conspicuous examples of modernization and innovation within tradition”.
For three days, over 20 footwear companies were visited by the attendants. “When I proposed this year’s theme, From Fashion to Factory: A New Technological Age, I thought of Portugal. Portugal was the perfect place to discuss this topic because there are only few countries where we can simultaneously find the whole production chain, with a lot of know-how concerning production and a profound knowledge in fashion and design”, stated Yves Morin.

FOOTure 4.0 roadmap

“Positive results for one of the most interesting Congress’ ever”, said the President of APICCAPS. Luís Onofre highlighted the «Roadmap of the Footwear Sector for the Digital Economy», recently presented by the Portuguese footwear industry. FOOTure 4.0 predicts an investment of 50 million euros until 2020 and seeks to explore the opportunities created by Industry 4.0, having defined four strategic priorities and fourteen measures, namely create ways of interacting with clients in the digital or network contexts, improve flexibility and response capacity, business intelligence and sustainability, qualify the sector for Industry 4.0 by becoming it more dynamic, innovative and capable of creating new businesses and improve the sector’s image and intelligence.

Next Congress not yet assigned

UITIC’s Executive Committee has gathered at the end of the event and announced that there are three candidates to hold the next big global technical event. South Africa, Colombia or Romania are the countries that have already submitted the applications and may host the 21th World Footwear Congress in 2020.