“It’s a very relevant market both within the European and the international scene and even with more relevance to Portugal. It’s the 4th main market of the Portuguese exports and the lead in terms of positive trade balance”. The words are from Rui Boavista Marques. AIECEP’s delegate in London believes the UK is a market with a high growth potential and that the uncertainties from Brexit won’t be a constraint for the Portuguese companies.
But why is the UK such an important market? “The UK – mainly London – is a creativity magnet. There are several factors for the clustering hub that is London. I believe it’s due to the high financial capacity of new ideas, that created a strong creativity ecosystem. Good ideas can have more success and more effectively. There are a lot of Portuguese that are part of this ecosystem, such as Farfetch and Marques’Almeida”.
In the land of Her Majesty the consumption of luxury goods has been increasing 20% per year and each consumer buys an average of 5 to 6 pairs of shoes a year. To Ana Rocha, director of London College of Fashion, “this is definitely a desirable market for the brands. I believe there’s a higher potential to the premium sector than to fast fashion segments, which are widely saturated”.
The uncertainty environment in the UK increases every day. The British Prime Minister continues the negotiations, after the diploma regarding the exit of European Union being voted down three times. Theresa May believes this process will still take place until the summer. The commercial effects or details that the exit of the UK will mean to Portugal are still unknown. Rui Boavista Marques believes “Brexit should mean an opportunity to the companies. No matter the agreement, the Portuguese can’t overlook this market. Exports haven’t decreased, despite this uncertainty environment”. For AIECEP’s delegate, “this is a mature market with a lot of new market trends, such as the digital world. The entrance of the online segment in the UK is, for instances, the double as of the US in the several distribution channels”.
To Ana Rocha, “apart from Brexit’s uncertainty, the UK is an extremely attractive market that consumes a lot of fashion and where fashion has high value, estimated in approximately 32 billion pounds (37 million euros)”. Rui Boavista Marques still adds other point: “the English costumer is multifaceted. We can’t forget that the UK is the ‘birthplace’ of fashion trends, where several international renown competence centers are based”.
According to World Footwear Yearbook, the UK is the 3rd biggest footwear importer worldwide. In 2017, the last year with available data, the UK imported 679 million pairs of shoes, mainly from China (share of 69%), Vietnam (6%) and the Netherlands (3%).
To Portugal, the UK is a market of choice. Notwithstanding the last decade’s decline, in 2018 the Portuguese footwear industry exported five million pairs of shoes to the British market, worth 122 million euros (average price of 23.98€).