We will need to do more
10 Sep 2020Stories
Luís Onofre has just been reelected as APICCAPS’ President in what he considers to be one of the “most difficult periods for the Portuguese footwear industry”. This was the starting point for this great interview for the APICCAPS’ Newspaper, where the most important current topics were addressed.
Three years ago, I was elected for the first time to the Presidency of APICCAPS. At that time, the Management Board has defined a detailed and demanding work program. We finished the term with a great sense of accomplishment.
However, the Portuguese footwear industry is currently going through one of the most difficult periods of its history. for that reason, I accepted to run for a new mandate and I appreciate the trust that everyone has put on me, especially the Board that is with me.
We couldn’t leave this project at this complex time. We embark on this new term with full consciousness of what it’s on stake.
You mentioned the industry is going through one of most difficult periods of its history. How is the sector reacting?
The pandemic has ruthlessly crushed the world on a global scale and has had an impact that was only known in times of war, with drastic falls of demand and serious disruptions in the supply chains. We are currently facing, and will face in the near future, a very demanding transition period full of uncertainties at all levels.
However, the international footwear market was already was already undergoing a profound transformation before the pandemic, with changes in consumption patterns, as well as the establishment of new business models that are linked to new technologies and the digital world.
All these sudden changes have forced us to question what we were used to do. Now, more than ever, I believe that we need to join forces and reinvent ways to keep our industry alive and healthy.
What can the sector do, as a whole, to rebuild itself?
I believe it’s possible to achieve this goal. If we all focus more on solutions than problems, although they're real, global and difficult, we’ll certainly find them.
One of the biggest current limitations is the difficulty of travelling and contacting with the clients. The participation in international fairs is highly conditioned. Does that worry you?
It naturally concerns me, both as a businessman and head of this association. It’s a contingency that we have at the moment.
For the footwear sector, the participation in international fairs has always been paramount. It allows us to contact with clients, test new products, understand the markets’ dynamic and even deepen the knowledge related to consumption trends and to our competitors. We’ll need to quickly return to that dynamic. In this regard, and at the moment we’ve living, additional support for internationalization is of great importance. We have been raising the Government’s awareness for this need.
Also, we’ll need to know how to promote our products and contact the clients through other channels. APICCAPS has been reinforcing the valorization of our efforts.
We still lack Portuguese brands that are known all over the world. We’ll also expressively reform our online participation. APICCAPS is doing an important work in this domain.
We recently had good news from Brussels, about the agreement on the economic recovery plan. Which expectations do you have regarding the next Community Support Framework?
We have to acknowledge the singular firepower to which Europe is finally committing itself to at this difficult period.
Europe will also have to take advantage of this difficult times to redefine some of its positions. Throughout the past decades, clothing and footwear have been looked at as less important sectors in Brussels. And that is enough.
APICCAPS has always defended a fair, balanced and free trade. However, at the moment, Europe allows the entry of footwear from 20 of the main world producers with special conditions, because they’re considered less developed. It makes no sense to enable the entrance of competitors in our market, which, in many cases, don’t even fulfill the demanding sustainability and social requirements. That’s why APICCAPS and the European Footwear Confederation have been working together on changing the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences, which has not been easy, as you can imagine.
Is that your main battle while head of the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry?
It’s important to say that the simple fact that I’m President of the European Footwear Confederation is a recognition of what our industry has conquered.
Is the year of 202 lost? How will 2021 be?
Estimates suggest that this year will register a fall of approximately 22.5% on the global footwear consumption. In Europe, the fall will be even more expressive, of approximately 27.5%. Over 5.000 million pairs of shoes will no longer be commercialized worldwide.
The coming years are not going to be easy. Additional efforts will be demanded from all of us and companies will have to find innovative solutions.
But this is not a time to give up. Now, more than ever, is time to look ahead with our heads up, with full trust on our abilities and break new grounds.
We are a sector of resilient people, who have always faced the challenges and struggles. This is just another one and we’ll bounce back to the top, as we have always done.