Part of complete coverage on
Holey soles: Italy's breathable shoe brand looks east
August 22, 2012 -- Updated 1556 GMT (2356 HKT)
- Italian shoemaker Geox specializes in creating "breathable" shoes and fabrics
- The company employs 30,000 people around the world and has nearly 1,200 stores
- Economic downturn means Geox is planning to invest in Asia
(CNN) -- Since 1995 the Italian shoe manufacturer Geox has worked hard to ensure consumers are spared the inconvenience and embarrassment of sweaty feet.
Its patented "breathable shoe" technology -- a combination of a membrane insole that absorbs sweat and lets it out through an outer sole filled with holes -- has turned the company into a multi-million dollar shoe empire.
The idea of a sole filled with holes came to the company's founder, Mario Moretti Polegato, when he was on a business trip to Reno, Nevada, to promote his family's wine products. After the meeting Polegato decided to go for a wander in the hot Nevada Desert, and necessity turned out to be the mother of invention.
As his feat quickly began to overheat Polegato decided to make holes in the bottom of his shoes. "With my pocket knife I cut holes in the right and left part of the soles and I realized the ventilation in my shoes," he said.
When Polegato returned to Italy he started to develop a shoe with holes in the sole that let air in and perspiration out. The design was patented and in 1995 Geox was founded with five employees; today it employs 30,000 people around the world.
Scientific and technological innovation has been key to Geox's success, and the company has patented numerous new materials in rubber, leather and fabric. Each prototype is designed in Italy but to shorten delivery times the company outsources much of its manufacturing to Asia.
"We invest a lot in quality control. In every factory where we produce there is an Italian technician, a shoemaker, that controls shoe by shoe," said Polegato.
Despite being Italy's number one shoe brand, the economic crisis has affected sales in Geox's core market. The company's distribution network is clogged up with last year's stock and orders for next season are down.
Read more: Unlocking China's business potential
Polegato says the solution is to look further afield than Italy and its neighboring countries: "Our strategy now is to invest more in some countries with economic growth, like the Asia Pacific area, Eastern Europe, India and Turkey," he said.
Nearly seven years after Geox opened a megastore on Madison Avenue in New York City, the company is looking east to expand its empire. "Our program now is to open 300 Geox stores in China," he added.
Part of complete coverage on
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Turkey is a "source of inspiration" to show how Islam and democracy can go hand-in-hand, the country's deputy prime minister has told CNN.
April 5, 2013 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
Bright, shiny and emblazoned with names like Ferrari and Lamborghini -- these brakes are almost as stylish as the cars they're hidden within.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
EasyJet's new London to Moscow route is an opportunity to attract more business travelers, according to the low cost airline's chief executive.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
If you're a business traveller in Europe, you'll no doubt have complained at length about the regions' airlines, be it the cost of a plane ticket or the quality of the food or the delays.
March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT)
European demands for the steel industry to cap emissions by 2020 are "unachievable" with current technology, according to an ArcelorMittal executive.
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
At Oknoplast's production site outside Krakow, Poland, windows of all shapes and sizes are stacked up ready for delivery.
February 22, 2013 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
We receive them almost on a daily basis; text messages alerting us that our taxi is outside or our dentist appointment is tomorrow.
February 22, 2013 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
What happens when you mix detergent, cosmetics and a bucket load of adhesives? You get a multi-billion dollar German corporation called Henkel.
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 1824 GMT (0224 HKT)
It is said that the devil would never dare cross the River Tamar into Cornwall for fear of ending up as a filling in a Cornish pasty. The legend, it seems, could just be true.
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Europe needs to cut back on its red tape and be more competitive if it is to succeed on a global stage, according to Diageo's chief executive.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
Booms, busts and bubbles are all jargon you might associate with today's troubled Irish economy. But now you can add "beans" to that list.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Multinational companies see Ireland as the "gateway" to investing in Europe, says the boss of the country's largest food company.
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
UK Prime Minister David Cameron's voiced his intentions to let the British people vote on Europe. The mayor of London says it's all part of democracy.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
It started with one man peddling lavender and rosemary oil at local markets -- now it's a business valued at $4.8 billion.
January 10, 2013 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Jaeger LeCoultre CEO Jerome Lambert talks about the benefits of being part of a larger group.
December 27, 2012 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest explores how European business leaders have dealt with the financial climate in 2012.
December 27, 2012 -- Updated 1451 GMT (2251 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest looks at how European businesses have performed amid a cold climate of austerity.
Click here to read more of the top business stories from across the continent brought to you by the Marketplace Europe team.
Today's five most popular stories