The Last Australian Shoe Manufacturers

I had a throwaway line in my op-ed this morning.

What will a company tax rise do to prices? While the evidence is thin, theory suggests that companies will be most likely to put up prices on consumers when they do not face competition from importers. So an Australian shoe manufacturer (do we have any left?) may be unable to shift the burden to consumers. But a fast food outlet will have greater capacity to raise prices.

Which prompted this informative response:

Dear Andrew,

After reading your piece in the AFR this morning I thought I’d answer your question: Are there any shoe manufacturers left in Australia? Despite the fact that the footwear industry has undergone massive restructuring, redundancies, factory closures, tariff elimination (despite competitor countries’ excessive rates) and now, almost no government assistance, there is still a solid footwear manufacturing industry in place.

The industrial/safety market within our country is well supplied by local manufacturers such as Oliver & Stevens, Steel Blue, Rossi Boots, Mongel Boots, Redback and Taipan Footwear – these companies continue to make shoes in Australia and supply not only our industrial needs but also critical areas such as the defence forces, fire fighters and police.

In the general consumer area the iconic Australian brand R.M.Williams has an impressive South Australian factory where all their boots are made. In the fashion area companies like J.Robins in Sydney continue to design and manufacture footwear for the women of Australia.

Footwear manufacturing is a very labour intensive industry and, despite the best technology, is a tough business to be in when we have no competitive advantage in the employment of people. However, those manufacturers that remain in Australia have a passion for the industry and a determination to survive.

An interesting resource to find more about the TCF industry is Professor Roy Green’s "Building Innovative Capacity – Review of  the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industries, 2008"


Phil Butt
Footwear Manufacturers Association of Australia.

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1 Response to The Last Australian Shoe Manufacturers

  1. Good on the remaining shoe manufacturers, but it’s cute to see that they think they get no assistance – just a 5% tariff – not like quotas but nice if you can get it – and many millions of dollars from you and me.

    RM Williams is stuck here for marketing reasons. In fact I think if they were eligible and had to pay Tony’s Tax, they might bear most of the incidence. Taxing rents is like that. Still for slightly complicated reasons, we should leave the tariffs where they are, remove other assistance and forget about Tony’s Tax.

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