Headquartered in the Cariri region of the Ceará State, one of the largest shoe manufacturing centers in Brazil – Vizzia wants to include Africa in its radar. Consolidated in the Brazilian market, where it has existed for two decades and directly employs about 400 employees, the company wants to follow in the footsteps of some of its competitors. Among them are “gaúcha” boots, who sell to South Africa, Mozambique, and Beira Rio, and operate in the Arab countries of the continent – such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.
“We already sell to all of Brazil and some countries in South America and the Middle East. We also have business prospects with Europe, but we still gave nothing done there”, says businessman Glaidston Gonçalves de Lucena, owner of the company.
The search for the foreign market is a trend followed by many Brazilian shoe manufacturers. The domestic market, which absorbs more than 85% of the total produced by the sector (over 940 million pairs per year), is down. In the first half of the year – compared to the same period last year – indicators prepared by the Brazilian Association of Footwear Industries (“Abicalçados”) point to a 0.4% drop in sales.
The owner of Vizzia blames the economic downturn for this crisis. “The people’s purchasing power has diminished,” he complains. “Our product, as it is not very high value-added, can still maintain itself. But the others are not succeeding.”
On the other hand, exports grew 8.2% in volume and 3.6% in revenue between January and July this year, compared to the same period last year. “Our team has been traveling constantly, our commercial sector does not stop. We can not wait. It is this effort that has helped us to continue and reach the numbers of the past” says Glaidston Gonçalves de Lucena.
To ATLANTICO, he confirms that his team is already studying to land their products in the African market. “Our products fit perfectly with the climate in Africa. We have open sandals that are good for the tropical climate. What we need to do is get the right access, reach out to shoppers. We have not yet found the people with the right skills to get into that market,” he reveals.
In Juazeiro do Norte, the first shoe factories started in the 1970s, still improvised in the backyards of houses; they have begun to develop from the 1990s. The sector has had 250 industries and employs 15,000 people in the region.
“In the last four years, we have had an absurd fall. Almost 50% of shoe factories have closed, and this has hit the whole country, both in small and large companies,” laments Glaidston Gonçalves de Lucena. Ceará ranks second in the standing of states that export the most footwear. That is where 26 million pairs generated $160.4 million in the first eight months of 2019. The state lost to the Rio Grande do Sul, which remains the main exporter of footwear in Brazil, taking 46% of the total generated by shipments in 2019.
With the collaboration of Emanuel de Macêdo