GDS offers stability in troubled times

22 September 2003

'A stable market in unsettled times', is how Wilhelm Niedergöker, managing director at Messe Düsseldorf, summed up the results at this last GDS. '1,520 exhibitors on 80,000 m2 and 40,000 trade visitors - of whom about 27,000 came from abroad - show us that the GDS is a must at these difficult times for our sector. This means the stabilisation trend already recorded in spring has continued to prevail. This is an excellent result although the number of German shoe retailers, for instance, has fallen by 6.2% since the year 2000.' The market has changed and this was very apparent at GDS, the barometer event for this sector. Both exhibitor and visitor structure is changing. Traditional strongholds of European shoe production such as Italy, Spain and Germany are under great pressure - shoe production in 2002 fell by 8.9% across Europe and in Italy alone 10.7% fewer shoes were manufactured. Correspondingly, fewer exhibitors and visitors came to GDS from Italy while a greater number of companies were posted on the supply side from new markets like Brazil and Turkey. Prominent amongst first-time visitors to GDS - who accounted for over 20% - were large delegations from Russia and Asia, especially Japan, as well as from the USA (including one from the NSRA - National Shoe Retailers Association). What trends will mark the next season? According to the collections and fashion shows of the Shoe Institute DSI (Das Schuhinstitut): 'The more colourful the better' is the motto for next summer and bold colours are making their comeback. Furthermore, shoes will be extremely revealing with feet being highly exposed. Alongside delicate wrap-over straps around the ankles and calves in leather, taffeta, cord and raffia, the sport fashion contrast is very much at the forefront here even for everyday wear. Sneakers, sporty sandals and boxing boots are worn by those who like it comfy but who still want to be trendy. One of the numerous highlights at GDS was the presentation of the European Footwear Marketing Award, EFMA. Before an audience of several hundred guests the Roman firm Hassan was presented the coveted award for its excellent marketing concept by CEDDEC president Dr Massimo Donda. Dates for the two forthcoming GDS fairs in Düsseldorf: March 11-14, 2004, and September 16-19, 2004. Sources: CEDDEC - European Federation of the Shoe Retail Trade Associations (CEDDEC), Brussels; ANCI - Associazione Nazionale Calzaturifici Italiani

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