Simac, the technology showcase for the footwear machinery and chemical industry which takes place alongside Lineapelle, has ended in a neutral mood.

This year has seen a slowdown in the footwear sector following a positive 2000. Simac, which took place at the Bologna Fiera, Italy, May 8 – 11, further underlined that consumer demand for footwear products remains stable at present but the future is still uncertain as some important economies see a downturn.

Simac, which is organised by the Italian association of footwear and tanning machinery manufacturers, Assomac, did report a higher number of international visitors. Official delegations from ten countries and the considerable flow of visitors from all parts of the world attended. National visitor numbers may have been slightly distracted by political elections in Italy.

Amilcare Baccini, Assomac director, cited low growth in key markets for the current situation: ‘The news arriving from the world economy is not at all comforting – a consumer crisis in the United States has now been added to that of Japan. Europe, as ever, seems to follow the American trend. The manufacturing industry is now wondering about its immediate future and fears a reduction in orders – suppliers of materials and components first of all, then those supplying technology fear the consequences of a slowdown that could turn into a reflux that will also penalise investments in technology.’

‘What at the end of 2000 and the beginning of 2001 looked like a long-term recovery seems unfortunately to have been interrupted. However, all this did not penalise Simac. After the first two and a half days we can say that the visitor numbers remain steady at the levels recorded in recent years’, he added.

The organisers highlighted a larger presence of Asian visitors, a new interest shown by African countries for technology and the welcome reappearance of Mexican footwear manufacturers this year. ‘Simac 2001 goes down on record as positive even though the clouds that have returned too quickly to darken the horizon of the world economy would indicate a future storm’, commented Baccini.