According to a statement from Assomac, the association’s meeting held on Thursday June 29 in Vigevano was ‘packed’. Assomac chairman Giovanni Gaia stated that ‘a careful reading of the market situation showed indications of a not too distant upturn. The decline that had marked the sector over the last three years seems to have slowed down considerably.’

Gaia said that the causes of the downturn, including what he characterized as the Chinese Invasion, the low value of the dollar, and labour costs, are still affecting the industry and for this reason the association in conjunction with Federmacchine has sent suggestions to the Prodi government as to how the state should be supporting the Italian manufacturing industry.

The statement continues ‘China has tripled its trade surplus, produces more than 10 billion pairs of shoes and is raising production quality standards while the Western industry continues to lose its share. In Europe, the northern front continues to favour business as against the Mediterranean front that would like to salvage production activities.

Vice-chairman Giulio Tandura pointed out that the amount of leather being made has not changed globally, however in Italy the situation of the tanning industry is more precarious and therefore jobs in the industry cannot be taken for granted.

Tandura believes the market as a whole has shrunk because Italian companies are no longer being asked for low-standard technology. ‘Countries with a large tanning production manufacture the basic level of technology at home.’

The meeting recognised that there are no longer guaranteed returns for entrepreneurs in the sector. ‘It is conceivable that, sooner or later, the recently industrialized countries in our sector will require our technology of excellence; we must provide the ‘added extra’ that justifies the investment.’

In his closing statements Gaia added: ‘We have undergone and controlled the restructuring and downsizing of our companies…We have a good team but if we stick to our traditional approach of defence…we may not go forward. We have to attack. We have the know-how, the means and the people to do it.’