Brazil’s Barefoot-feel Shoes a Hit in Japan and US

Brazilian shoe company Opananken Antistress, located in Franca, a city in the interior of the state of São Paulo, had an increase in their exports of more than 100% from January to September 2004 in relation to the same period last year.

Next year the company intends to double their output and export 25% of the total volume.

“Last year our exports represented 7% of the production. We increased this by almost 120%,” stated the commercial manager at Opananken, Sebastião Donizeti Siqueira.

Currently, 15% of the shoes manufactured by Opananken are sold on the international market, most of them to Japan.

Further down the road, the aim is to sell 50% of the manufactured shoes overseas. The company sells to a total of 15 countries.

“We make, on average, 1000 pairs per day, but I want to manufacture 2000 and sell half on the foreign market,” stated the founder of Opananken, Geraldo Ribeiro Filho.

The company intends to participate in international trade shows to gain more markets.

According to the founder, in January and February the production levels drop, since the internal market slows down the buying rate.

“We want to dedicate our output in this period to the foreign market,” said Ribeiro, who is thinking about carrying out this objective as of next year.

From 20 to 1000 Pairs per Day

“My wife, one employee and I started in a 250 square meter warehouse, manufacturing 20 pairs of shoes per day and going out in the streets to sell them,” recalled Ribeiro Filho, who founded Opananken in 1990.

Today, the company has 4 factories, each one with 250 square meters, and counts with more than 100 direct employees, as well as 600 outsourced.

Opananken has 2 stores in the city of Franca, in the interior of São Paulo, and this year has opened franchises in California, in the United States.

In the beginning, their focus was the health sector. they manufactured only white shoes, mainly for doctors.

After 2 years investing in technology, the company elaborated a shoe that could relieve the daily tensions. It became known as antistress.

“I never thought I would go from 20 pairs per day to 1000,” said Ribeiro.

Today, the company has 12 lines of products, one of which is the Diabetic’s Line, developed especially for people who have difficult blood circulation in their feet.

Middle East

Opananken is sending 20% of their exports to Kuwait and Lebanon. Kuwait entered their list of importers only last year, and already represent 80% of the factory’s external sales to the Middle East.

“Kuwait buys increasingly more, it is a promising market,” stated Siqueira.

Lebanon has imported the company’s products for 4 years. In total, Opananken sells approximately 720 pairs every month to the two countries, but Siqueira believes the export volumes to the region can increase.

The shoes sold in the Arab countries, as well as in the other countries, are exactly the same as those sold in Brazil.

“Currently the main part of what is shipped to the Arab market is the masculine model, since the company has only recently started dedicating themselves to feminine shoes,” explained Ribeiro Filho.

The shoes reach the international market with the company’s brand name.

In 2002, the feminine shoes represented 8% of the company’s general sales. In 2003 it increased to 25%, and this year it already corresponds to 40% of the sales. Opananken hired a designer especially for the feminine collection.

The company is known for the antistress shoes they manufacture. The inner soles follow the foot’s anatomy, and the material used is polyurethane, which is lighter than leather.

According to Ribeiro, one of the secrets for the shoes’ comfort is in the inner sole. “We were born to walk barefoot, so I develop shoes that give people the sensation they are walking without shoes,” he added.

It is not only Opananken which is increasing their sales to the Middle East.

Between January and October this year, Brazilian companies together exported the equivalent to US$ 109.5 million to the Arab country, against US$ 59.3 million in the same period last year.

The increase was of 84%. Brazilian imports from Kuwait added up to US$ 270,400, an increase of 265% in relation to 2003.

ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency


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