The local authorities in Elche in the province of Alicante in eastern Spain have announced that the number of companies producing footwear, leather and shoe components in the area has increased by almost 20% in the last two years; reports China Leather web site.
JA long-time mainstay of the Spanish footwear sector, industry observers have described the news as proof of the staying power of the manufacturing clusters in and around Elche, with a particular concentration in the towns of Petrer and Elda.
Major restructuring took place in the industry at the start of this century when Spanish retailers began to bring a larger volume of lower-cost shoes into the country from overseas and, in response, some Elche-based brands took their production, or at least part of it, to cheaper manufacturing locations in Asia. A number of companies closed down and thousands of footwear workers lost their jobs.
Just as a smaller but more confident and creative industry began to emerge from this, the industry was hit, like practically all others, by the financial crisis that began in 2008.
However, according to official figures from the city authorities in Elche, 862 companies were involved in the local footwear value chain at the end of 2015. This figure represents an increase of 19.5% compared to two years earlier because the total number of companies involved in the local footwear sector at the end of 2013 was 721.
In terms of footwear industry workers, Elche registered a historically low figure in 2009, with just over 5,300 people involved in making shoes. By 2015, that number had risen to almost 9,000, an increase over the six-year period of almost 70%.
The Elche authorities have also pointed out that there are plenty of other jobs in its manufacturing sector that are dependent on being part of the footwear supply base, in sectors such as chemicals and transportation.