Geox[1]A great new product idea is not enough. It has to be protected with a patent. That is the lesson Mario Moretti Polegato, founder and CEO of shoes maker Geox, learnt by doing business and always teaches to students when invited by universities around the globe to unveil his recipe for success. His own one was that of having invented, and patented, a special rubber waterproof sole capable of breathing and therefore of preventing feet both from sweating and from heating. Mr Polegato likes to tell he first had the idea when he participated in conference in Reno: while out jogging in the desert climate, his feet got hot and he cut some holes in the soles of his shoes with a knife. He developed the idea into a viable product and pitched his invention to several established footwear manufacturers, but unsuccessfully. Then he decided to make it on his own and passed the market testing phase for a line of children’s footwear just to began shortly after large-scale production of shoes with the commercial slogan: “the shoe that breathes”. That same year, 1995, he improved the original patent and extended the product range to men’s and women’s footwear under the Geox brand in the production facility of Montebelluna, a small town in North Eastern Italy. “The shoe that breathes” inspired consumers and Mr. Polegato’s venture became a case-study. The company continued to constantly invest in innovation, created and patented new machineries, while developing a full range of footwear and accessories line. A success story which culminated with the Ipo launched in 2004 on the Milan stock exchange. In the following years Geox also bought the footwear producer Diadora which is currently in the process of being re-branded. As the crisis did bite into sales in Italy, were the middle class was Geox initial reference market, Geox started a transition with the aim of becoming a leading high-end footwear producer for consumers in the emerging markets, such as Russia and China. The company plans to open 450 new outlets in the Asian continent by year 2016, where it is already present in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao. In its process of expansion eastward Geox also relies on Ri Qing, a franchising local partner which used to work for other celebrated Italian luxury brands: Bulgari, Max Mara and Ferragamo. East Europe is a target as well, namely Poland and Russia, where Geox plans to open one more hundred outlets always by 2016. At the same time, the new Geox aims at smoothly change the perception of its brand, a bit less of technology and a bit more of Italian fashion. Some at Geox nicknamed this undergoing process the “high heels” revolution.

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