Fashions come and go, but beautiful objects are immune to all of them. And if those beautiful objects are artfully crafted, they are eternal.
This principle is well known to those Italian companies which, celebrated for their manufacturing expertise and quality, produce up-market collections also on behalf of other national and international brands. Not to mention those foreign brands, French ones in particular which, aware of the importance of the made in Italy label in the luxury goods industry, have been buying up Italian companies. Bloomberg estimates that, from 2010 to date, ninety-seven acquisitions have been made worldwide on the luxury market and that 31% of these operations have been carried off by LVMH for an overall figure of ten billion dollars, equivalent to 61% of their total value.
If, on one hand, this process brings benefits to Italian companies in terms of international distribution and an injection of fresh resources conducive to a more rapid development of the brand, on the other hand, the company management and ownership is transferred to foreign operators who do not always share its interests. Those who do not participate in the big players’ game are left to take up the challenge launched by the global market in order to defend the leadership of the made in Italy cachet, a symbol that goes well beyond the ambit of the more prestigious brands, to embrace an entire way of living based on good taste, whether applied to luxury goods, fashion, art or lifestyle. How? For example, by entering into agreements with strategic international partners and exploiting avant-garde sales channels such as e-commerce and travel retail.
The customary year-end appointment with Pambianco and Intesa San Paolo was focused on this particularly topical issue and did not fail to highlight the fact that manufacturing firms are also in the sights (and portfolio) of possible acquisitions. The main beneficial effect is the growth of manufacturing districts in terms of turnover and headcount even though, in the long term, there is no way of totally excluding the risk of consumers attributing less importance to production in favour of the brand, which would lead to manufacturing activities being down-sized in Italy.
Neither can it be denied that, in the value chain of luxury goods, the manufacturing company has a smaller share of the sales turnover; besides, the impressive numbers relating to sales in this industry are achieved by the magical power of marketing, rather than the actual quality of the product even though, thanks to a specific focus on innovation, quality and service, there are also examples of outside suppliers who manage to bring home some decidedly interesting profits.
Whether operating under its own name or that of others, the excellence of Italian manufacturing seems to have found its ideal dimension, by way of culture or tradition, in small/medium enterprises. But its inventiveness and creative flair are second to none. And the time has come to prove it, outside of its own back garden.