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FDRA Identifies Top Footwear Factories

The Footwear Distributors and Retailer of America (FDRA) recently recognized eight factories with the special distinction of being a Recognized Footwear Manufacturer. The special designation was determined by a committee of top footwear sourcing executives based on factories found to be the most compliant with FDRA’s new Code of Conduct.

FDRA created the code earlier this year to help drive uniformity within the footwear industry and to clearly communicate and uphold the social norms and values commonly held by FDRA members. The code covers working hours and overtime to structural safety and transparency, and acts as a comprehensive guide to ensure factories adhere to standards that are compliant with industry expectations.

The 2014 FDRA Recognized Responsible Footwear Manufacturers are: Dongguan Mayflower Footwear Corp (China), Guangzhou Zhujiang Properwell Shoes Mfg. Ltd (China), Hue Phong Footwear Co. Ltd (Vietnam), Panyu Leader Footwear Corp (China), Putian Chengyi Footwear Co. Ltd (China), Right Rich VN Co. Ltd (Vietnam), Serena Shoe Co. Ltd (China), and Yangzhou FuHeng Shoes Co. Ltd (China).

Mike Jeppesen, president of global operations at Wolverine Worldwide and chairman of FDRA’s factory enhancement and sourcing committee, who developed the Code and selected the recognition recipients, said, “The selection of these factories as our first recipients of the Recognized Responsible Footwear Manufacturer Program is extremely important for our industry.” He added, “FDRA is leading the industry in a pragmatic way to ensure that factory compliance remains a top priority for US brands and their suppliers worldwide.”

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Over 100 factory owners and managers attended a special reception in Dongguan, China on Nov. 4 to honor the eight factories. The following day, FDRA hosted more than 125 factory managers at the 15th Annual Responsible Footwear Forum (RFF) in Dongguan to discuss the importance of the factory recognition program and hear from global brand executives and Chinese government officials.

FDRA president Matt Priest said, “The Code of Conduct is fast becoming the guidebook for factory compliance across Asia. We have translated it into multiple languages and are making great progress as each month new major footwear companies are asking their factories to adopt and implement this industry common standard. FDRA is driving real change throughout the footwear supply chain by incentivizing factories to more effective manage working hours, wages, and other important issues.”

FDRA also hosted its first-ever summit in Vietnam on Nov. 10th in Ho Chi Minh City. Over 10 percent of U.S. footwear imports are being produced in the country. The event was the country’s largest-ever footwear workshop.

Industry leaders briefed more than 150 factory owners and managers about the soon-to-be-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement. Attendees also discussed ways to reduce costs by improving supply chain efficiencies, the impact on current U.S. product safety regulations on footwear production and how factories can improve quality and productivity while becoming better at compliance issues.