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A Step Ahead
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British footwear company SATRA are leading the way in Wenzhou, writes David Friesen.Over 60 per cent of the world’s footwear is made in China, and the Wenzhou region is home to a large number of manufacturers making products suitable for export to the West. SATRA provides technical services to manufacturers of footwear, clothing, personal protective equipment and furniture worldwide, and has helped a number of Wenzhou companies to export products that are fit for purpose, meet global legislation and are made cost effectively. It is crucial for Chinese manufacturers to understand the requirements of countries they are exporting to, and SATRA works with companies to guide them through the complex EU and US legislation relating to consumer products, helping ensure their products satisfy statutory requirements. SATRA has provided various training workshops and seminars for Wenzhou companies to help organise factory output more efficiently.Wenzhou companies have used SATRA to conduct testing of their footwear products and associated components ranging from safety testing to establishing the efficacy of mould inhibiting products. Tests have included chemical assessment of restricted substances, advice on REACH legislation as well as various mechanical and physical assessments associated with the durability of shoes. In the case of safety footwear, SATRA has helped Wenzhou manufacturers produce the technical documentation required for the European market, tested the products to EU safety standards and carried out assessments to confirm suitability against the EU Personal Protective Products (PPE) directive.In SATRA’s experience, many Wenzhou footwear companies are led by the ‘buyer’, whether this is domestic market retail, international retail, or large global brands and sourcing companies. Supply chain complexity, especially in the Far East, is something that SATRA is very experienced in. For example, SATRA’sleather grading programme was formed to help relationships between international Western brands and Far East tanneries – in the early days there were many disputes between the grade of leather specified and the grade actually delivered. This was more a result of language barriers than anything else and the SATRA grading system solved the problem.In the future, SATRA will continue to work with Wenzhou footwear companies to help them make better shoes, improve health and safety and achieve production efficiency with less impact on the environment.

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