Faria da Costa has socks to walk

To have loyal customers, a list that includes H&M, to launch new products to combat the seasonality of its socks and to take the company name beyond the 28 markets where it currently has a presence are part of the Faria da Costa's strategy to grow.

Founded in 1988, Faria da Costa was born of the will of Álvaro Costa to diversify the activity. «At the time, the product that was giving was the textile and I, who was in poultry, producing baby chickens and breeding eggs, went for the textile, for stockings and socks, it was a totally different thing», explained the company’s founder in an interview, given together with his son, Nuno Costa, published in Jornal Têxtil’s April’s issue. Without having knowledge of the textile business, he threw himself into the adventure of making socks and since then has never stopped. «Even today we learning, every day. What drives us is that we are getting more customers and we are doing new products – almost every day there’s a new product leaving the factory», he added.

Innovation is on the daily agenda of the company’s 75 employees. A strategy that ends up being imposed by the everyday reality and the globalization of the business itself. «In the end, it is no more than to be ahead of the competition», confessed Álvaro Costa. This trail forward has allowed the development of innovative products such as WyFeet (Warm Your Feet), the result of a partnership with Citeve, currently in the industrialization phase. «We are innovating with other kind of articles, looking for technical articles. We will keep the winter articles from the same range – both socks, scarves and bonnets – but we are diversifying into products that can be competitive with the machines we have», unveiled Nuno Costa, adding that «we will also diversify into summer articles with the main objective of annihilating our seasonal period».

It was thanks to this capability of differentiation and diversification that Faria da Costa overtook the clash of the entry of Chinese products in Europe and is winning daily in a competitive market where even higher temperatures, caused by global warming, seem to play against it. «Weather is probably more harmful than the competition itself», explained Nuno Costa.

Considering the type of the articles being produced – it is specialized in socks for temperatures from -10 °C to -20 °C –, the markets in the North of Europe, including Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, are, of course, the main destinies of the socks of the company, which exports to around 28 countries almost all of the 25,000 pairs of socks that produces daily. «We are always looking for new markets», underlined Nuno Costa, pointing the US and Canada – where it has already a presence – but also Russia, a new bet, as the targets in sight.

With H&M as one of its reference customers, the company, which in 2015 recorded a turnover of approximately 3 million euros, believes that 2016 will be a positive year, believing in the «very strong» opening recorded at the beginning of the year. It doesn’t ignore, however, the threat of competitors or the difficulties of the sector. «There are many difficulties, even in everyday products. Competition from Eastern Europe, and in the socks’ case, from Turkey, is very strong. There are sectors where we already note an improvement, but in socks, I think it will come too, but it is not so clear now», said Álvaro Costa.

Therefore, Faria da Costa is renewing its machinery, consisting of 200 looms, with an investment of 700 thousand euros, to replace 20 machines in the next 10 years. «This is a very dynamic area and it is necessary dynamism to be updated with the market, because today we are selling an article very well but tomorrow it changes and it doesn’t sell anymore. Hence the constant innovation we have to do», concluded Nuno Costa.