The latest invention from the Italian shoe group Geox is called Amphibiox. The designs from this range are not only equipped with the known breathable sole, but the whole shoe has been made waterproof using the patented membrane that has alreadybrought success to the company.
“Our success rests on technological development, and we believe that, even in the future, technology will provide success,” explained Geox founder, Mario Moretti Polegato, about the invention. This was during a special press conference arranged for the launch of Amphibiox at the head office in Montebelluna. “With our products we want to respond to real problems,” he elaborated.
The heir of a rich wine family set up the business 15 years ago around the membrane he conceived himself; a fleece with holes that are so small that ater on the outside cannot get in but water vapour molecules from the inside can get out. At first, Polegato attempted to bring his invention to the world through existing shoe manufacturers, but when they said no, he decided to put into production himself shoes with the application inside. That was a success: in the meantime, Geox has become one of the largest shoe manufacturers in the world; the company has some 11,000 sales points worldwide and 1015 of its own shops. In 2004, the company went public, and the Moretti Polegato family held 70 percent of the shares. Furthermore, in 2003, Geox earned Mario Moretti Polegato the accolade ‘best Italian entrepreneur in the world’, a title given to him by Ernst & Young. In March of this year, he was proclaimed Innovator of the Year at the presentation of the CNBC European Business Leaders Awards.
Success does not mean that the business remains unaffected by global phenomena such as an economic crisis. In 2008, the company turnover may have grown by 16 percent compared with the year before, but over 2009, the turnover dropped by 3 percent; to € 865m. “These are difficult times, but we were prepared for them,” said CEO Diego Bolzonello. “And we have faith that things will be better again in the future.”
During the economic crisis, the company still entrusted two percent of the turnover to be invested in research & development, resulting not only in Amphibiox, but also in fifty to sixty more other patented inventions. The development of a new product at Geox takes an average of six months to two years. “We plan to come up with something new each year,” says Moretti Polegato. “Just as Apple does.”
Amphibiox has kicked off this new strategy; a shoe that is watertight and breathable from top to bottom. “A unique concept,” asserts Alessandri Sacilotto, the boss of Geox's R&D department. “The main difference between existing watertight shoes is that the membrane is fastened directly to the shoe, so even the lining of the shoe remains dry,” he explains. The first models of the Geox Amphibiox will be presented at the GDS trade fair in September. To start with, there are three models which can be subdivided into the categories casual, comfort and classic. The price averages at around € 110, which is a fraction higher than the regular Geox models.
From our correspondent in Montebelluna