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Portuguese footwear industry to invest 600 million euros

08 Feb 2024

News Portuguese footwear industry to invest 600 million euros
As part of its strategic plan, the Portuguese footwear industry will invest 600 million euros by the end of the decade in innovation, sustainability, company and worker skills, and internalisation.

"The big investment we are making, the biggest ever made by our industry until the end of the decade, is 600 million euros in four different albeit complementary areas”, says Paulo Gonçalves, spokesperson for the Portuguese Footwear, Components, Leather Goods Manufacturers’ Association (APICCAPS), Paulo Gonçalves.

"We are not particularly focused on increasing production, as the sector already manufactures 80 million pairs of shoes a year; our main goal is to optimise processes and make the Portuguese footwear industry an international benchmark in the development of new products”.

This 600-million-euro investment planned by the end of 2030 includes two major projects already underway (BioShoes4All and FAIST), which are expected to be completed by 2024/2025, in the areas of automation, digitalisation and sustainability.

One of the main axes of this strategy is the "green commitment”, according to a spokesperson for APICCAPS, the association that signed a protocol with around 150 companies earlier this year, which involves audits to improve energy efficiency, material use or ‘eco-design’.

"We are carrying out these audits so that we can effectively change and optimise processes. The next step is the development of a new generation of products”, stated Paulo Gonçalves, who said that 100 partners, including 14 universities, are working with the Portuguese footwear industry to put it "at the forefront”.
The Portuguese footwear industry is creating "a new generation of products” using, for example, biomaterials (such as fruit peels), natural materials (such as cork and wood), or recycled materials, in addition to working on the development of new technologies and techniques with the main raw material, leather. Leather is "a durable product” and a by-product of the food industry that is used in the manufacture of footwear, thus also contributing "to the well-being of the planet”, argued Paulo Gonçalves.

At the same time, the sector is working on areas such as energy efficiency, water consumption reduction, or even eco-design.
"24 million pairs of shoes are produced every year and about 90% are made in Asia, which means that nine out of ten people wear Asian shoes. We do not think this is sustainable, on the contrary, we think there is a place in the market for a small player like Portugal”, says Paulo Gonçalves. 

There are currently 1500 companies in the footwear cluster (footwear, components and leather goods), responsible for 40 thousand jobs. The sector exports 90% of its production to 173 countries on all five continents.

"Regardless of economic cycles, we are here to stay. The greatest proof of our confidence is that we are making the biggest investment in our history. We know that Portugal can be a great international benchmark in terms of developing a sustainable industry, an industry for the future”, he concluded.