Running Feb. 12 to 14 at the Milano-Rho fairgrounds, a couple of weeks earlier than in pre-pandemic times, the show is expected to attract around 600 exhibitors, half the number it registered in 2019.
“Mido was among the trade shows hit the hardest,” said Giovanni Vitaloni, the fair’s president and head of ANFAO, the national association of eyewear companies. “Over the past 24 months, we’ve worked tirelessly to reposition the fair,” he said Monday during a lunch held in central Milan.
As a result of precautionary measures, Mido was among the trade show operators to move online and stick to the digital format in the past two years, with the most recent edition held exceptionally in June, but Vitaloni said his hope had been to return to physical fairs since Day One.
“Mido has always been an engine for the sector, with international appeal, a broad catalogue of products and educational events,” he said. “It’s a crucial moment, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises to showcase their collections.”
Although Asian visitors and companies will be largely absent due to travel bans, the fair’s president said he expects a modest presence of industry operators from Korea, while most of the other relevant markets outside Asia will be represented. He said that 55 percent of confirmed exhibitors hail from abroad, while the ongoing partnership with ICE, the Italian trade agency, is aimed at securing buyers from key areas.
The Italian and global eyewear industry will surely benefit from the in-person return of the fair, a key moment to do business, as well as an industry gathering helping the sector advance in topics ranging from sustainability to supply chain, upcoming trends and business outlook.
In 2021 sales of the Italian eyewear sector are expected to reach 4 billion euros, down 2 to 3 percent compared to 2019. This signals a strong recovery for the industry, which has so far made up for the 26 percent drop in sales it posted in 2020, when sales reached 3 billion euros. Optical frames showed stronger resilience, posting a 5 percent uptick versus 2019, while sunglasses still lag behind, down 4 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The outlook is rosy for the industry, contended Vitaloni, as the skills and know-how of Italian manufacturers are largely unmatched. To this end, there’s an ongoing tendency to re-shore production capabilities mainly from China, in the wake of buyers’ increased attention to social and environmental sustainability.
“We’re gaining new global market shares thanks to our ability to offer sustainable credentials,” Vitaloni explained. He added that logistics and energy costs are also challenging the status quo, causing companies to rethink their past delocalization approach to secure efficiency and on-time deliveries, which are essential competitive levers.
Mindful of the competitive advantage sustainability offers, industry association ANFAO has forged ties with Certottica, an Italian certification provider whose goal is to debut a local seal of approval for sustainable eyewear products. “We’re starting just now a process that will trigger the entire [eyewear] supply chain to do better,” he said.