The Middle East is one of the regions of the world to where Brazilian exports of kid's shoes have greater chances of growing in 2007. This is the opinion of the president of the Birigüi Union of Shoe and Garment Industries (Sinbi), José Roberto Colli.
Birigüi is currently the greatest kid's shoe hub in Brazil and is home to around 70% of the country's production of this kind of shoe. There are 159 factories installed in the city, of which 90% produce shoes for children.
The industries from the region set up at the 34th International Shoes, Sportsgoods and Leathergoods Fair (Couromoda), which is taking place in São Paulo, a mini factory producing children's shoes.
There, at a giant stand called The Fantastic Shoe Factory, industries are actually producing shoes to show retailers from Brazil and abroad how shoes are made in Birigüi. The hub currently produces 57 million pairs of shoes a year and exports 11.6% to over 70 countries.
The main international markets for the shoe industries, according to Colli, are the Middle East and South America. The president of the Sinbi believes that exports as a whole should remain stable this year, mainly due to the appreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar, which makes sales more difficult.
To the Middle East, however, Colli believes that exports have good chances of growing. "If there is a region where it is possible to grow, even in the current conditions, it is there. The buying power is very large."
Importers from the Middle East, according to Colli, usually buy small sized, comfortable kid's shoes, without heels. "It is a warm region that identifies very much with Brazil. What we make here fits the market there," stated the president of the Sinbi.
Competition with China, according to him, is not strong, and although they offer lower prices, they cannot make shoes with as good design as the Brazilian shoes. "The Arabs like design very much," he said.
On May 22 and 23, the Birigüi hub is going to participate in the Buyer Project, in which there are business roundtables between Brazilian makers and importers. The program covers the cost of the trip of the importers to Brazil.
Arabs, according to Colli, should also be invited. The project is promoted by the Brazilian Association of Shoe Manufacturers (Abicalçados), the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex) and this year also includes the support of the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae).
It is going to take place in the city of São Paulo and apart from the factories in Birigüi, will also include companies from the hubs in Jaú and Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, also in the southeastern Brazilian state.
In the hub in Birigüi, of the 159 shoe factories, most are small and medium. Just 15 companies are large. The kid's shoe hub started being established around 40 years ago. Colli believes that this year the domestic consumption of shoes should power the production of local factories. The forecasted growth in production this year is between 5% and 10%.
"Children are consuming more shoes due to fashion, innovation and media. Children see the shoes and ask their parents for them. And parents don't buy for themselves, but buy for their kids," he said.
In Brazil, according to the president of the Sinbi, kid's shoe production is around 80 million pairs a year, of which around 10% are exported.
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