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Organised by Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, in partnership with BFA - British Footwear Association and the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), the “Wine Tasting and Innovative Ideas for the footwear industry” event, held on 2 November 2022 in London, aimed to offer UK retailers an interesting experience to inspire their business, as well as a pleasant opportunity to come together.
Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags wanted to highlight new ideas for the footwear industry of the future, proposed by innovative Italian companies, and to offer a delightful opportunity to relax: a tasting of Italian wines that would interpret in an original way the variety of footwear styles and proposals that British buyers will be able to discover during the next show, from 14 to 17 January 2023.

Riva del Garda, November 7th, 2022

Since 2017, the theme of internationalisation, the distinctive feature and main objective of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, has found its fullest expression in Around The World, the business-oriented format that through national and  international appointments, is designed to strengthen the show’s identity, boost sector know-how, foster relations between operators and explore the past, present and future through millions of bags, shoes and accessories.

After the stop imposed by the pandemic, Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags Around The World is again travelling around the world and making its voice heard. On 2 November 2022, it stopped off in London with the “Wine Tasting and Innovative Ideas for the footwear industry”  event, to meet UK retailers in an unusual setting that could inspire, support and entertain them.

Why start again from the UK? Because although UK footwear sales continued to decline in 2021, bucking the trend in other European countries, probably as a result of Brexit, the UK remains a major importer of footwear (the fifth largest  in volume terms worldwide) from China, Italy, Germany, Vietnam and the Netherlands (according to data provided by APICCAPS' World Footwear Yearbook). With 353 million pairs imported worth a total of USD 5,118 million, a population of 68 million and  a GDP per capita of USD 47,000, it remains a very attractive market for those who want to sell shoes, despite the fact that both imports and exports have fallen to their lowest levels in ten years, and that imports from China, accounting for the largest  share, have fallen by a quarter in the last five years.

It is a market experiencing difficulties, but one which will grow again and in which it will be important to gain ground. This is why Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags wanted to start again from London.

British retailers reciprocated with their enthusiasm for the event, as is clear from the comment of Lucy Reece-Raybould, CEO of the British Footwear Association: “I attended Expo Riva Schuh for the first time in 2019. I was impressed  by both the remarkable offer at the show and the positive energy that the event conveyed. It is undoubtedly the place to be if you want to discover a wide range of footwear, but also to open your eyes and be inspired by the innovations on display.  These ideas can change the footwear business and will enable us to better deal with the many challenges ahead of us”.

Lucy’s words are echoed by Sacha Spencer, Senior Buyer at Marks & Spencer, the London-based British multinational retailer specialising in luxury clothing, accessories and  food, with 852 stores across the UK, and many more in  India, Egypt, Russia, Greece, Ireland, France, Poland, Finland, Hungary and Spain. He says: “I was in Riva del Garda several times before the pandemic brought us to a standstill. Having the chance to go back this year gave our team of designers and  our purchasing department the chance to start working closely with the supply chain again, assessing products live to determine the best design for each project. By visiting the show, we were able to double the number of European partners we work  with and identify those that are right for us, those that allow us to test and improve our collections today, and not to be forced into minimum orders that are currently unrealistic. For us, it was a real paradigm shift, and we look forward to returning  to Riva del Garda and continuing the work we have begun”.

For Lisa Paine, Sales Director at T&A Footwear, one of the leading suppliers of women's and children's footwear in the UK, the timing of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags is crucial: "As suppliers, we experienced the show from the viewpoint  of both those looking for production partners and those who are buyers of finished products. In both cases, the timing of the event, both in January and June, is perfect for us. It allows us to both assess restocking needs and to plan purchases for  the following seasons".

Participants also liked the innovative ideas proposed by the Italian companies that won the first two editions of the Start-up Competition promoted by Expo Riva Schuh Innovation Village Retail. Moderated by Massimo Volpe, Co-founder of Retail Hub, Andrea Carpineti, CEO & Co-founder of Future Fashion and Imran Hussain, Account Executive UK of Wonderflow, provided an interesting and inspirational talk pointing to scenarios that  can now revolutionise the world of footwear production and distribution. These include 3D modelling, which can help fashion brands to be more sustainable and innovative, while reducing sample development costs and improving the customer experience  with product customisation; the use of artificial intelligence that can provide a global customer analytics experience, extracting useful information from consumer feedback to help companies in product innovation, customer experience and strategic  marketing.

The initiative concluded with the unusual idea of using a special Italian wine-tasting event to enable participants to discover the many styles and wide range of products that will be on show at the next Expo Riva Schuh &  Gardabags. The renowned wineries Nicola Bergaglio, Planeta, Cenatiempo, Frescobaldi and Della Vite, selected by Pina Bello, Sommelier and Account Manager at Enotria & Coe, delighted the British retailers' palates with their wines, enabling them  to discover some of the style themes they will find at the show: Casual Fashion, Fashion Forward, Sport Fashion, Classical Evening wear, Classical Urban chic.

This original event in London gave Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags an opportunity to explain to the English-speaking distribution sector that the show will not only provide them with a vast and varied offer of footwear, but also innovative solutions to promote their business,  as well as unparalleled assistance for buyers, which can support them during their visit, and carefully and competently match supply and demand, so as to find the best partners to work with according to their  specific needs.