After working for the Brazilian group for 21 years and running it for the last 15 years, Márcio Luiz Simões Utsch, whose name is generally shortened to Márcio Utsch, is planning to leave as chief executive of Alpargatas in the early part of the first quarter of 2019. Roberto Funari, a former manager of Reckitt Benckiser sitting on Alpargatas' board of directors, will replace him.

Utsch, who is going to be 60 years old next spring, is said to be leaving because of differences of opinion with the new shareholders who took over the company's control one year ago – the Itaúsa investment fund, Calbuhy Investimentos and Brasil Warrant. His departure also coincides with the establishment of a new government in Brazil.

The board also appointed a new manager in charge of administration, finance and investor relations, Julian Garrido Del Val Neto, replacing Fabio Leite de Souza, who will concentrate on Havaianas' business in Brazil.

A few weeks earlier, Alpargatas, whose main assets are the Havaianas brand of rubber sandals and its license for Mizuno in Brazil and Argentina, continued a process of divestment for Topper, its brand of sports products in Argentina. The Brazilian group signed an agreement for the sale of a 22.5 percent stake in the business unit for Topper in Argentina and the rest of the world for 100 million reais (€22.7m-$25.6m), with an option on the balance of the shares that can be exercised starting in 2021.

Alpargatas had already agreed three years ago to sell a 20 percent stake in Topper to Wizard Martins' holding company, Sforza, which also bought a former brand of sports shoes, Rainha, from Alpargatas. But it had signed a 15-year license for Topper in the U.S. and other countries.

Alpargatas has also announced the layoff of 500 more workers its Argentinian footwear factory at Tucumán, after the shutdown of another shoe factory at Catamarca and an apparel plant at Sanata Rosa in the country. The closures followed an opening-up of the Argentinian market to imports under the current government and a high inflation rate that has strongly affected local consumption.

We will report on the latest financial results of Alpargatas as well as Vulcabras in our next issue.