Clogs and sandals made by Brazilian brand Bottero, from the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, are winning consumers in the Arab world.
Last year, the company exported the equivalent to US$ 150,000. The main buyers were the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Together, sales to the Arab countries represented 10% of the total exported by Bottero. This year, the industry hopes to repeat the 2004 figures, according to Charles André Werb, the factory export manager.
The first sales to the Arabs took place in 2003, after participation in some international fairs, in Europe.
“We made contacts, presented the products and soon business opportunities arose,” stated Werb.
The most sought models were those in the summer line, due to the climate in the region.
“Open sandals and clogs were very well accepted,” he said.
The consumers, in general, are young females, like the Bottero customers in Brazil.
According to the executive, the company is betting on the Arab market for some reasons. “The first fact is that per capita consumption of shoes is high there (around 5.2 pairs a year, like in Western Europe),” he explained.
Another important factor is the growth potential of the economy of the Arab countries. “Ever since we started selling to the Arab market, we have registered growth every year,” explained Werb.
The affinity between the Arabs and Brazilians has also been a simplifier for company business with retailers.
“There is a very cordial relationship, friendly, which offers us a perspective of solid, long term relations with tradesmen in the region. We do not want to sell large volumes just once. The intention is to cultivate a long lasting commercial relation,” said Werb.
For the time being, the company has made no modification to the models exported. The shoes follow the foreign tendencies, but they are inspired on the Brazilian culture.
However, the company respects Islamic laws. They do not export, for example, shoes made out of pork leather.
Bottero currently employs 1,350 people in four units, all in Rio Grande do Sul. Two in the city of Parobé, one in Caraá and another in Santo Antônio da Patrulha.
The company’s annual production is 3.6 million pairs. Around 25% are turned to export. Apart from the Arab countries, the United States, Chile and England also import Bottero shoes.
Brazil is the third largest shoe producer in the world – losing only to China and India.
Last year, factories in the country produced 700 million pairs of shoes. The domestic market consumed 500 million.
Sandals represented almost half of this total, according to figures supplied by the Brazilian Association of Shoe Manufacturers (Abicalçados).
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency – www.anba.com.br