Stonefly, the Italian comfort shoe firm, established its own sales subsidiary in Canada last month under its former distributor, Douglas Brownstein. Other management appointments will be made over the next few weeks.

The company is also increasing its marketing budget from seven to 10 per cent of sales this year - a strategy more common among athletic footwear firms such as adidas and Puma.

Giorgia Zanin, who formerly worked for Mario Moretti-Polegato, owner of Geox, will become Stonefly's first communications manager.

Sales at Stonefly are likely to increase from 105bn lire to 120bn lire ($57m) this year, with the USA doubling to around $10m in sales. A concept store has been opened at Ria's in San Francisco.