BOLOGNAFIERE IS THE ONLY TRADE FAIR ORGANIZER TO HOLD AN EVENT ABROAD DURING THE COVID ERA: THE INNOVATIVE FORMAT OF OBUV’ MIR KOZHI BRINGS ITALIAN FOOTWEAR TO RUSSIA

Mar 22, 2021

A SUCCESSFUL EXPERIENCE THAT CAN BE REPLICATED FOR OTHER INITIATIVES WHILE THE PANDEMIC EMERGENCY CONTINUES.

 The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 led to the suspension of all exhibition activities in Italy and abroad. The hope was to resume holding fair events after a few months but the deterioration of the situation on a global scale, and the restrictions on international travel, eliminated any possibility of a return to business as usual until the pandemic emergency has passed. 

Within this very restrictive scenario, in which it was unthinkable to organize events abroad, BolognaFiere has created an innovative exhibition format that has enabled the event OBUV’ MIR KOZHI (in Russia) to take place in-person, ensuring the Italian footwear industry the opportunity to consolidate its business in one of its important export markets. The first edition of this new format was held in October 2020 and now, from 23 to 26 March, it will be taking place again with a larger number of participants, all well aware of the value of the initiative and the results that can be achieved. 

“It has been a genuine challenge,” announced Antonio Bruzzone, General Manager of BolognaFiere. “We are proud to be the only ones in the world able to organize an event abroad under such difficult conditions: no possibility for travel or long-term planning and the substantial stress on companies. The satisfaction of the exhibitors, who were able to showcase their sample collections, and the calls to repeat the event, also on its traditional dates in the spring, clearly demonstrate the results achieved. What we proposed was not a digital event, in which an online showcase replaces the traditional format but severely limits discussions and interaction between operators, but rather an in-person fair at which Italian footwear could be appreciated by visiting buyers at OBUV’ MIR KOZHI and where, thanks to a knowledge of the market, we were able to create the best possible conditions for interaction between exhibitors and their clients.” 

These accomplishments are fruit of BolognaFiere’s organizational know-how and the identification of a new format that combines digital technologies with the advantages of an in-person event. Knowledge of the market, a highly experienced and motivated team capable of dealing with the organizational issues on site, a location with high speed internet connections, made it possible to offer Italian producers this commercial opportunity, taking advantage of the time window that allowed exhibition events and the fact that, although international travel was not possible for people, the sample collections were able to travel to the venue. 

OBUV’ MIR KOZHI is, to all intents, an in-person trade fair with stands where the collections of Italian footwear producers were presented to buyers who were attending in-person, just like at a conventional fair. BolognaFiere’s experience in the Russian market enables us to BolognaFiere spa Viale della Fiera, 20 – 40127 Bologna, Italia Tel. +39 051 282111 – Fax +39 051 6374004 PEC: bolognafiere@pec.bolognafiere.it www.bolognafiere.com Capitale sociale € 106.780.000,00 i.v. C.F. – P.IVA e Reg. Imp. BO 00312600372 – REA BO367296 

provide exhibitors with a commercial network on site, with Russian staff who have notable expertise in the sector and who have been working for many years with Italian producers. 

The active participation of the Italian exhibitors took place via digital channels for the duration of the event, ensuring direct dialogue between producers (in Italy) and Russian buyers at the stands in Moscow, with all of the possibilities for an active commercial discussion – involving buyer, product and producer – that are key to a sales negotiation. The Italian companies could therefore enjoy a constant oversight of what was going on in Moscow, a window of dialogue that was extremely appreciated during a moment in which it has not been possible to travel. 

The organizational flexibility inherent to this format is a key factor in its success and has enabled us to face up to the current impossibility to make long-term plans and the sudden requirements to modify event dates. It is thanks to this flexibility that the spring edition of OBUV’ MIR KOZHI could be rescheduled to take place 15 days earlier without causing any problems for the participating companies. This decision was taken in order to avoid holding the event in a period in which the Russian authorities expect the arrival of the third wave of the pandemic. 

More than 50 Italian footwear producers are taking part in OBUV’ MIR KOZHI, in Moscow from 23 to 26 March, and will present to Russian buyers their new collections, expressing the tradition and quality of ‘Made in Italy’ footwear. While the edition in October 2020 enabled us to achieve commercial results comparable with 80% of what would have been achieved in the pre-Covid era, expectations are even greater for the next edition in light of the importance of discussions and interaction between buyers and producers. 

“During such a particularly critical moment for international markets,” explains Siro Badon, President of Assocalzaturifici, “our Association is proud to maintain our key bastions, in-person, in areas that are particularly strategic for Italian footwear exports. Russia is a market that has suffered less than some others as a direct consequence of the pandemic because it has managed to keep commercial activities open, while online trade has been registering continuous growth for at least 5 years. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible for businesspeople to enter the country but we will work together with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the coming months until it is possible to return to normality. Within such an uncertain context, support from institutions is essential for our SMEs. ICE Agenzia (the Italian trade Agency) will again support the Italian companies at the event by activating an incoming buyer programme for buyers from the Regions of the Federation, an action that for Assocalzaturifici is absolutely strategic for maintaining its market position.” 

Obuv’ Mir Kozhi is an event organized by BolognaFiere with the support of Assocalzaturifici, ICE Agenzia (the Italian Trade Agency) and the Italian Ministry of Economic Affairs and International Cooperation. 

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Communication and External Relations Manager
Isabella Bonvicini – isabella.bonvicini@bolognafiere.it
Tel. +39 051 282 920 / +39 335 7995370