Satra to set up working group on sustainability -- a key future aspect
Kettering, UK -- "China remains the most dominant footwear exporter by far, but the business environment has changed. Other Asian economies are becoming more competitive. Before the recession it was significantly easier to run a successful business. However, the rapid growth rates driven by Western companies' sourcing strategies experienced in the early part of the 21st century are no longer sustainable," said Satra chief executive officer, Austin Simmons.
As result, Simmons added, Chinese companies "will increasingly find themselves under pressure from competitors. If they are to counter the new business environment of higher labour and material costs, skilled labour shortages, increased legislation and significantly increased competition, they need to look at efficiency improvements," the Satra ceo continued.
Simmons was speaking after a recent meeting with manufacturers in China, where he is chairman of the Satra China Advisory Board. His comments on the changing face of manufacturing competition in South East Asia will form the basis of future industry workshops. Satra itself is a UK-based consultancy and research group with specific expertise in the footwear and allied sectors.
"Business confidence is increasing and we appear to be coming out of the recession, albeit slowly in some sectors," said Simmons. … "many factories are busy producing footwear again for Western markets," but report stiff competition, rising costs and thin profit margins.
Simmons noted that Chinese footwear manufacturers are looking at lean manufacturing and improving productivity, reducing materials waste and energy consumption. "As well as making good commercial sense, such reduction sends out a positive message that the products produced have less impact on the environment," he commented.
The environmental issue, including climate change, is growing in importance so that companies producing more 'sustainable' products will be favoured by customers in future.
Proving environmental credentials is a tricky issue, and Satra is developing a Sustainable Product/Production scheme which outlines environmental impact through energy and material usage, presence of chemicals, emissions during manufacture and end-of-life disposal, the group added.
Discussions on an industry working group began on 16th June at Satra's Technology Centre in the UK. Topics included carbon footprint of shoes, waste, emissions and exposure to chemicals. The next generation of production efficiency systems for product manufacture was also outlined.
Satra is inviting any company in the product supply chain that has an interest in achieving sustainability, and all consumers who would like to express their thoughts about the environmental impact of the products they buy, to participate in Satra's People Products Planet initiative at www.peopleproductsplanet.com