Interview with Orlando Soares, from Malas Peixoto Soares
At a moment of deep changes in the footwear cluster worldwide, APICCAPS’ Journal has spoken with Orlando Soares about the Mipel exhibition, in Milan. With 70% of the production destined to exports, we went to understand how the external promotion has been essential in the growth of Malas Peixoto Soares. Foreign trade promotion It’s impossible to do a good external promotion within the footwear and leather goods sector without participating in exhibitions. There are no other places that gather so many industry decision makers as fairs do. Exhibitions The exhibitions’ profile has changed a lot in the past years. 20 years ago, the quality of a fair was measured by the amount of orders we came home with. Now, the quality of a fair is measured by the amount of network we’re able to do and contacts we’re able to gather. Business is done differently and the industry decision makers continue to gather in these events. They come to see the trends, to network and to make or finalize deals. Everything happens there. There’s no other place like it. Of course there are more local and regional exhibitions. In these sectors, Mipel is, by far, the most international exhibition in Europe. There, we can find customers and buyers from the Middle and Far East, the USA, Russia, etc. Naturally, we do other fairs as well, located in Denmark, Germany, etc. It’s were we present out proposals to a great deal of buyers. And I can’t stress this enough: there is no alternative to exhibitions. We started going uninterruptedly to Mipel in 1991, practically 30 years ago. The beginning of this exhibition was very hard, with only five Portuguese companies, but we kept going. A few years ago, we’ve concluded that 57% of our exports were directly or indirectly related to Mipel. The exhibitions of the future There are several theories about the evolution of exhibitions. I hold that fairs should continue to exist and be relevant, especially because they are a unique meeting point. I believe what will change is the type of business activity that happens at exhibitions. However, I also hold that there always has to be a meeting place for the exhibitors and decision markers. For that to happen, there has to be a way of attracting customers. Naturally, a customer from the Far East is not coming to Europe to see one or two companies. However, if there is a relevant number of companies, it makes the trip much more desirable.