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Overview of the footwear industrial sector

The footwear sector is a diverse industry which covers a wide variety of materials (textile, plastics, rubber and leather) and products from different types of men's, women's and children's footwear to more specialised products like snowboard boots and protective footwear. This diversity of end products corresponds to a multitude of industrial processes, enterprises and market structures.

EU action aims to promote innovation, competitiveness and competition between companies involved in the sector, combat fraud and counterfeiting, and protect consumers' health and the environment.

In 2006, the footwear sector included 26,600 enterprises, generating €26.2 billion in turnover and €6.9 billion in added value (0.5% of total European Union manufacturing), and directly employing 388,000 people. Two thirds of the total EU footwear production is actually concentrated in three countries: Italy, Spain and Portugal with Italy producing around 50% of EU production.

The European footwear industry consists of a large number of small enterprises (some 20 employees), most of which are located in regions with little industrial diversity. However, there are differences from one member state to the other: French and German businesses employ about 100 workers, while Spanish and Italian businesses employ about a dozen. The other Member States lie between these two extremes.

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