In 2006, sales fell by more than 5% year-on-year. The country has 35 footwear producers employing 20+ staff. They employed 4,000 people in 2007, down 4% from 2006. Czech footwear producers have been facing fierce competition from cheap imports from China.
Czechs buy 4-5 pairs of footwear on average annually, most of them made in China. In the past ten years, imports of Chinese shoes to the Czech Republic have grown ten times to 120 million pairs. Imports from other countries amount to millions of pairs of shoes.
In 1997, Czech producers turned out 18 million pairs of footwear. Most of the Czech-made shoes are exported. ‘Czech firms have restructured and now focus on the production of footwear with higher value added, like protective footwear’, said Mayerova.
Most of the Czech exports go to Slovakia. However, the export figures are misleading because according to statistics, Czech exports are several times higher than Czech production.  ‘This is because the statistics count the Chinese footwear which is only re-exported’, said Mayerova.