Expo Riva Schuh, the biggest international trade show for low and medium-priced footwear, is securing its future through long-term contracts with exhibitors from China and India, the world's two largest manufacturing countries. It is also moving into publishing with an agreement that gives it editorial control over Foto Shoe 30, a magazine for finished shoes that goes to shoe retailers around the world.

The number of exhibitors from China reached a new record of 412 firms at the Italian show, well above the number of Italian companies, limited at 350 but with important players such as Manas, Effegi Style and Primigi. The number of exhibitors from India went up to 119, including 67 firms sponsored by the Council for Leather Exports (CLE).

Expo Riva Schuh has signed a firm contract for six seasons with five Chinese export agencies that represent most of the Chinese participants at the fair. It is about to sign a similar deal with the CLE. The Italian show has been investing heavily on the Indian market in the last few years, but stopped recently its Expo Riva Schuh India exhibition in New Delhi as well as a program to take up space for its loyal clients at another Indian trade shoe in Mumbai.

Giovanni Laezza, general manager of the fair, described the deals with the Chinese and Indian delegations as a response to the “attack” from the GDS and Global Shoes in Düsseldorf, which have changed their dates to only three weeks after Expo Riva Schuh. In spite of the competition from Düsseldorf all the major players in the market returned to the Italian fair last month, building up to a total of 1,331 exhibitors.

They seemed to be generally pleased with their participation in the show, although the total number of visitors was slightly down from a year ago to a total of 12,552. In contrast with other fairs, positive signs came from Russian buyers, who are evidently showing new interest in good quality at reasonable prices because of the sharp decline in the value of rouble. The show sponsored a visit to the fair by ten buyers from Russia, five from Lithuania, four from Estonia and one from Poland, organizing 68 contacts for them.

Expo Riva Schuh featured for the first time a group of exhibitors from Bulgaria. An official of the fair said that it still had a waiting list in view of the planned expansion of the fairgrounds, for which no date has yet been set. Notably, there is a demand for participation from shoemakers in Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey.

The show's investment in Foto Shoe 30 follows many years of cooperation with the Italian company that publishes this magazine and others. It has been taking care of purchasing ads for the fair and publishing its catalog. Expo Riva Schuh is taking a 50 percent stake in Foto Shoe 30 in exchange for the company's acquisition of a stake in its own international development subsidiary. Expo Riva Schuh wants to boost the online contents of the publication.