The organizers of these two major European trade shows are sounding out their exhibitors to evaluate the possibility of holding a shoe fair in China as of next year, arguing that the market there is ready to welcome more brands and larger quantities of footwear from Europe.

The project of a Chinese session of Micam appears to be more advanced, and Anci, the Italian shoe industry association, may announce it as early as next month for a launch in the first half of 2013. Anci, which organizes the Milan show, is now in the process of selecting a suitable partner in China to organize the new event. It is not clear, however, whether it will be mainly a showcase of the “made in Italy” label like Obuv, the Russian shoe show taking place this week in Moscow, or a more open forum like Micam.

The second option may turn out more difficult to implement if Messe Düsseldorf, organizer of the GDS and the simultaneous Global Shoes fair, gets a positive response to its current efforts to enlist candidates for participation in a Chinese fair that would probably take place in Shanghai. Messe Düsseldorf is a partner in a modern exhibition center in Shanghai.

Apparently, Anci had made an offer to Messe Düsseldorf to ally itself with the Micam China project, but the German organization has preferred to go its own way. According to observers, the final scenario may consist of two international shows organized by Micam and the GDS at different times of the year in Beijing and Shanghai.

The project is believed to be facing an uphill battle, though, judging from the difficulties encountered so far by the Asia Pacific Leather Fair and others in organizing a suitable trade show for finished shoes in Hong Kong, Shanghai or Dongguan.

The biggest obstacle seems to be the fact that there are still no major multi-brand shoe retailers in China, a country where the retail sector is still dominated by mono-brand shops located in department stores and shopping malls, but observers feel that the retail landscape is bound to evolve soon, as the number of single-brand shops has reached a saturation point, especially in the larger urban areas. Our sister publication SGI Europe, which covers the sporting goods market, reported in its last issue on Intersport's multi-brand format entering the market through a franchising deal with the biggest generalist retailer in South China.

The Chinese government has decided to shift its emphasis from the expansion of the country's industrial production to the expansion of domestic consumption, which still represents a very small part of the nation's GDP. As an indication of the potential benefits of this policy change for European shoe companies, the latest export statistics from Italy and Spain point to a major development of their shoe exports to China and Hong Kong (see the last issue of Shoe Intelligence and the article on Spanish shoe exports in this issue).