After a big slump in previous years, sales in the Russian shoes market were on the rise in 2017, driving up both imports and an expanding domestic footwear manufacturing base, according to research released by the Russian Union of Leather Workers and Shoemakers during its annual meeting in Moscow on May 16.

No specific figures were given about the size or the growth of the market. However, total footwear imports into Russia jumped by 30.7 percent last year to 270.4 million pairs, while exports increased by 39.3 per cent to 17.7 million pairs.

Leading European suppliers like Fabi and Högl told us recently that their sales in Russia had stabilized. Another big supplier, Baldinini, indicated that they had started to increase.

While it is still very small, the domestic production of shoes grew slightly in 2017, thanks in part to state support. Russian footwear manufacturers produced 103.6 million pairs of shoes last year, up by 7.5 per cent as compared to 2016. Governmental support outweighed the influence of negative factors such as the devaluation of the national currency, the decline of the population's purchasing power and the competition with imported products.

Among the most important areas of state support, the research listed measures taken by government agencies against counterfeit products and subsidies allocated by public authorities to the several shoe manufacturers for their modernization projects.

In total, 11 billion rubles (€151m-$176m) were invested in the Russian shoe industry in 2017, the research estimated, without giving a comparitive figure for the previous year.