SSL Healthcare, the UK-based company that owns the Scholl brand name, decided early last year to set up a more independent and solid Footwear Development Group near Milan. The result was the first full-fledged collection of Scholl shoes for the European footwear trade, which was presented for the first time at the MICAM show in Milan a few weeks ago, drawing a lot of interest and a few significant orders. One of the first clients is Salamander, which has ordered some styles for a soft launch in 36 of its German stores next Fall.

Scholl’s Footwear Development Group has been run for the last four years by Roberto Veneziani, but at the beginning he hired a team of experienced professionals to develop and market the new line. Angelo Checchi, formerly with Geox, was appointed as product manager. Marco Alborghetti, formerly with Lancel and with GMI, a licensee of Levi’s for footwear and bags for the USA and the Far East, became category manager for the shoe trade. New master agents and sub-agents who know the shoe trade well have been hired in Italy, France, Spain, the UK and other markets where Scholl has its own subsidiaries.

The first complete collection consists of 90 different styles in two to three colors for women and men, retailing for €80 to €150 a pair. Targeting adults between the ages of 30 and 45-50, they feature many interesting design elements along with the comfort feature provided by the use of cork or of a gel.

Until now, Scholl has been known and perceived in Europe largely as a brand of orthopedic shoes, distributed mainly through pharmacies. Because of its heavy use of cork, the footwear developed and sold in Europe consisted primarily of summer women’s sandals. The brand’s footwear licensee in the USA, Brown Shoe Company, has marketed a more extensive line of street shoes, leading the European organization to source some of its styles. Last year it bought about 300,000 pairs from Brown Shoe for sale in European markets.