The Italian footwear industry is moving out of the recession that has crippled it for the past three years the Italian footwear manufacturers association said.

Antonio Brotini, chairman of ANCI, the Italian footwear manufacturers association, said: "Production has increased by 1.5 per cent according to data from our regular six-monthly sample surveys. These figures are the first sign of a change in the negative period we've been through. Even the fall in exports, heavily negative for the past three years, has slowed considerably, with a figure of only -1.8 per cent in the first five months. But the most encouraging news is the growth in value - 10 per cent - and of average prices, which are up 12.9 per cent."

The ANCI said that it was too early to say whether the Italian industry was moving into a positive cycle and pointed out that there were still problems to be dealt with. The strength of the dollar would encourage greater competition in non-European markets, as well as increasing raw hide prices.