French footwear is in a corner: downscaled, whelmed by import, with no subcontracting and out for leather

In 2017, France’s exports of shoes accounted for 3,2 billion euros: well done then. Yet, on the other hand, as emphasized by insiders and professionals, at the same time France’s imports of shoes accounted for 6,7 billion euros. That is why French domestic market is mastered and controlled by products made in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Vietnam, China, and so on. While speaking to Le Parisien, Claude-Eric Papin, president of FFC, the French Footwear Federation, somehow sent a rather alarming message. Firstly, Papin complained about the overall size of footwear manufacturing companies, which are generally small, owing to historical features and strategic decisions. In fact, all over the country, not including some special categories (such as artisan workshops, which are subject to different regulations, and manufacturers of orthopaedic shoes), only 99 shoe factories currently hire over 8 employees. They “stand out as to style, product lines and collections – emphasized Papin – but they just manufacture for the brand’s owner; unlike leather goods manufacturers, they do not have any subcontracting work”. Such choice, well justified, yet over the years has affected French shoe factories, as they could not benefit from a specific advantage, namely working for other brands, which has been taken, in contrast, by global competitors. In addition, French footwear industry is also facing another critical situation, as stressed by the president of FFC: materials. 54% of products are made of leather, but leather itself urges companies to tackle two problems: the former has to do with processing standards (“Still we have not created square cows”), the latter is about availability. International competition on materials is fierce, while domestic leather industry is downsizing at its base stage: “People eat meat less and less”.


Choose one of our subscription plans

Do you want to receive our newsletter?
Subscribe now