The Italian government is going to help small and medium-sized companies in various sectors, including footwear, through new tax regulations for the country’s system of specialized industrial clusters or «districts.» This is in addition to the large funds made available for promotion of the «Made in Italy» label in foreign markets by the central government, and to those of large shoe manufacturing regions like the Marche, Tuscany and Veneto.

Under the new legislation passed by the Italian Parliament, the numerous small and medium-sized producers of shoes and components that work together within these and other industrial districts may be taxed on their joint consolidated results, as if they were all subsidiaries of the same holding company. They will draw up special contracts stipulating that taxation will apply to the cumulated net results stemming from the profits and losses of the participating companies. For example, if a company makes a profit of €100 million and its manufacturing partner incurs a loss of €20 million, taxes will be paid on earnings of €80 million.

Such contractual arrangements, which must be endorsed by regional authorities, will also give the companies access to other governmental incentives and schemes. They are also designed to help determine their credit rating to obtain bank loans and other forms of financing, possibly including dedicated investment funds. The new regulations should become operational from the second half of this year, following approval of the relevant implementation decrees. They will likely be tested out before any large-scale application.

ANCI, the Italian shoe industry association, has appointed Adriano Sartor to coordinate the application of the new regulations to the footwear sector. Sartor, one of the top managers and shareholders of Stonefly, previously ran a nationwide association for the industrial districts that helped put together the proposals for the new legislation.