Achim, Germany -- China’s hold over the shoemaking market is set to drop off rapidly in the coming years, according to Christian Decker, managing director at shoe machinery maker Desma.
Speaking at the company’s biannual housefair, Decker said that China’s efficient infrastructure had allowed it to dominate the shoe making industry but demographic changes, social responsibility and rising labour costs could hit its ability to retain its power in that market.
He told event delegates that Desma’s own analysis of the market in 2013 showed China having 60.5% of global shoe production. This translates to 13bn pairs, a figure he said was “conservative.”
Desma found India’s production was the world’s second largest in 2013 with 10.4% of global production and Brazil was third at 4.1%.
Decker said some Chinese firms were experiencing 100% staff turnarounds within a year, a trend which can impact efficiency.
Another important factor was demographics said Decker. “The number of 18 to 40 year olds within China has reduced by 30% in the past 20 years. Back then, there were 360m within this age bracket, now there are 240m.” He said it was an issue that would ultimately limit growth in the country.
However, he did say that “industrial revolution 4.0,” with “increased automation of production processes,” would allow for the employment of a very low skilled workforce within China.
He added that China overtook former world leader Japan in the installation of automated production systems during 2013.
Decker also said China was cultivating its own brands – such as shoe and sports goods supplier 361 Degrees International and Anta, a branded sportswear producer – that would become “big” globally in the coming five years.
Decker also outlined shoe consumption and said his firm’s research had shown that the highest consumption rates for shoes fell to Asia too. Asia took just over 45% of the total number of shoes produced. Europe and North America respectively consumed between 16% and 17% of the total shoes produced in 2013.
China does have advantages for industrial strength said Deckers. Material availability, textile knowledge and its burgeoning “green economy” were still among its attractions but other countries and manufacturing bases were offering reasonable inflation rates, worker loyalty and importantly, “shorter distance to exports markets.”
On the other side, he said, increasing legal regulation of Chinese industry and rising energy and material costs had been noted in the research. Conversely, both the relocation and growth of shoe production to, and in, alternative countries could present material supply chain issues that might limit their potential for efficiency.
Deckers ended his presentation on a positive note, explaining that casual, athletic and one shot footwear markets that were growing well and safety footwear markets were also up slightly. Military footwear, however, was flat he said.