If we take into account the technical aspect, Polish shoes are the best made shoes worldwide. Excluding specialist sports shoes, no other country is able to develop such durable footwear– asserts Henryk Konopka from the Polish Chamber of Shoe and Leather Industry.

How does Polish leather industry cope with competition from other markets?

– With such high competition from foreign footwear, especially from Asia that wreaked havoc on the European market, Polish entrepreneurs cope fairly well even despite the fact that the footwear industry includes small private companies operating without support from the state. On top of that, they were able to endure the current conditions of worldwide footwear on their own but also maintain conveniently high levels and do not yield to competition. However, this does not mean that they do not need to promote themselves. It is always worth seeking new customers both nationwide and abroad especially due to the fact that quality often losses to low price. Asian products often do not meet the quality, sanitary  and health requirements by are selected by customers anyway. Well, price can do miracles. The worst is that consumers who perceive a product through its price are often not aware that they do harm to themselves.

How Polish products, which do not belong to the cheapest ones, are able to  defend themselves?

– Primarily though quality. If we take into account the technical aspect, Polish shoes are the best made shoes worldwide. Excluding specialist sports shoes, no other country is able to develop such durable footwear. They win through quality as well as price –leather products of this class are significantly more expensive in other European countries. Polish manufacturers use only certified materials that need to comply with numerous norms, and the outcome might be different in practice. The process of tanning of leather is requiring in order to ensure that the final product is harmless. Garments and footwear manufactured by low costs in Asia contain large amounts of chemistry. As a result, they might become detrimental to health and even hazardous to life. There is a large discrepancy between standards of shoes manufactured in Europe and Asia.

Does the footwear industry hold place for innovations?

– It is essential. All large factories need to head in this direction in order to face and overcome mediocrity. Such goals need to be prioritized because they are worth systematic investments. One needs to undergo technological development and propose new design and pattern solutions.

Is the shoemaker profession endangered due to the quality of products offered on the market nationwide?

– Absolutely no, this craftsmanship shall always be needed. Even the best shoes have limited durability, wear off and need repairs. Such shoe repairment points, such as those operating in shopping centres, are a common sight on the West. Instead of lack of demand on such services, a bigger problem consists of lack of those willing to work in this profession.

Does the leather industry also suffer from workforce shortage? How do you evaluate the condition of professions related with the industry?

– It suffers a lot. Lack of workforce is a problem occurring across all regions and branches. I think that the situation can be changed by the new governmental program introducing vocational schools. Nonetheless, we need to remember that young people make their decisions based on the primary motivational factor – how much can they earn in a particular profession.

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