R&D in the core of Foot by Foot

Initially dedicated to footwear, Foot by Foot has expanded to other activity areas, having today a portfolio that serves equally the automotive industry, apparel manufacturing and home textiles. The bet in R&D is bearing fruits and the expansion project is based in new products and markets to reach the whole world.

Foot by Foot is trying to capitalize the know-how accumulated in 40 years of activity throughout three generations. If the first generation of the family company was responsible for the creation of the business, the second one has invested in technology and the third one, represented by the managing partner António Pereira and his two brothers, has bet on internationalization, broadening markets, sectors and products based on the new technological expertise.

«In 2004 we worked 80% for footwear – we built laminated textiles for shoes. And the goal was to get into other sectors, because the existent technology allowed that», explains António Pereira, in an interview published in February’s issue of Jornal Têxtil. «Technologies are the same to make products for different areas and that was what we did», he adds.

Currently, the company has activity in four business areas – footwear, home textiles, apparel and automotive – with a portfolio that includes 400 active clients, among which are included renowned fashion brands. Prada and Carolina Herrera already have sought the company’s know-how in the production of laminated textiles, which also has a partnership with the Portuguese designer Diogo Miranda. A kind of work that, highlights the managing partner, «brings more creativity, a more diversified offer, which allows us having an offer of another kind of services».

In apparel and automotive industries, Foot by Foot’s work is based in services, but in home textiles and footwear, the company sells finished products. «We buy the yarn, make the total process until the delivery of the finished product in a roll. Therefore, we deliver material in meters that can be immediately used in apparel and make, in the home textiles, mattress protections, a pillow, an apron», explains António Pereira.

Footwear represents nowadays 40% of the sales, while home textiles have a 30% share, apparel 20% and automotive industry 10%.

In recent years, the company, which employs about 30 people, has been attending major international trade shows, such as Heimtextil, and national ones, like Modtissimo, through which was able to increase its clients’ portfolio. «The only two trade fairs we did was Techtextil, to which we will return in 2017, and Heimtextil, which we will keep for the rest of our life», underlines the managing partner. «Heimtextil was our big bet and it’s our major drive. During the first three years, we didn’t feel anything, because people are there to get to know us, but then they see there is a continuity and they trust us», he says.

To boost future growth, the strategy of Foot by Foot, which in the last six years has invested about 2 million euros, is now concentrated in the reinforcement of the offer of product solutions, a project that includes the creation of a department exclusively dedicated to research and development. «In the next three to five years we are going to create a product R&D cabinet where might work five people exclusively dedicated to product creation», announces António Pereira. Currently, Foot by Foot is developing a mattress protection for the hospital industry that is completely biodegradable, with knits made of crab shell, in partnership with Vilartex, which is in validation phase.

2015 was «the best year ever in terms of profitability», but the trend is to improve. «In the last 10 years we have grown annually 7% in average. We never get to double digits, but that is also strategic», states António Pereira, who also highlights that none of the company’s clients represents more than 7% of its sales.

For the future, the managing partner of Foot by Foot, which exports 20& of its production to 10 markets, has as goal «to take this company to apparel manufacture, to build solutions in terms of services for this sector and be able to reach the whole world».