Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation
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The Mandarina Duck idea
Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - It has taken less than thirty years to grow from a small business in the sector of plastic materials to sales exceeding 100 million euro, with a staff of over 800 employees producing more than one million bags and suitcases a year. These are not made according to a traditional type, nor are they made from leather, but from innovative materials. This is the entrepreneurial history of Paolo Trento, the founder of a unique brand on the Italian industrial panorama: Mandarina Duck. Today the Finduck Group, the holding company operating in the leather sector, clothing and accessories under the brands Mandarina Duck and Lamarthe, reaches sales of 43 percent in Italy, 10 percent in France, 14 percent in Germany, 14 percent in Spain, 2 percent in the United Kingdom and 4 percent in Japan. Over the past ten years, average growth has registered 6 percent, with highs of 30 percent in 1995, 13 percent in 2000 and 20 percent in 2001. The distribution network of the firm consists in 110 mono-brand shops in Italy, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong and Japan, and in 1.100 multi-brand shops throughout Europe, of which 70 department stores and 160 Mandarina Duck shop-corners.
Paolo Trento, how did the idea come about to produce these items "outside" traditional standards, and not in leather?
"It all began in 1977, when my cousin Pietro Mannato and I decided to use the know-how that we had acquired in the field of plastic materials and rubber to produce 'Utility', a bag made from synthetic materials and very colourful, that broke all rules on the market at that time, replacing the rather heavy and dark bags in brown or black leather. 'Utility', in fact, radically changed the market. Today we have sold more than 300.000 items".
You have relied a lot on your brand to make your products unique and recognisable. Wasn't that a risk, in a market closely bound up with traditional products made from leather and natural skins?
"During those years as well as the strong singularity provided by the use of colour and of the materials used we decided to begin constructing a brand image with which the consumer could recognise and identify himself. The mandarin duck, in fact, is an animal which fully mirrors fully the values of the brand, such as colour, resistance and quality, an attitude to travel, dependable. The mandarin duck has very highly coloured plumage, it embarks on long migratory journeys. It is tenacious, and its feathers are waterproof. In addition, it is a totally monogamous bird, and faithful".
What kind of importance do you give to the resistance of your products over time?
"A handbag is a very personal object, an extension of the person who wears it, and therefore it is important that just because of its quality and resistance the consumer may establish a relationship with it that lasts over time".
What are the roles which have been played and will be played in the future by technological research and by the materials used?
"Research and development have always been very important matters in our firm right from the start, and will remain so also in the future. The use of innovative materials, leading to substantial improvements in items which accompany us in our daily lives always provide stimulation - much needed stimulation in carrying out innovative products, and also products of a more classical aspect, but having a technical content, as well as new solutions".
How have you faced up to the challenge of international markets? "Right from the start we have faced up to international markets in a spirit aimed at seeking the development potential in different countries, always making local investments. We have always sought not to be merely a firm oriented only towards exports. This strategy has certainly contributed positively to building up our produce and in certain cases to increasing the appeal of our products throughout the world.
What are your aims for the future, above all on foreign markets?
"Future development will be concentrated on Europe and the United States."
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