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ITALIAN KITCHENS LOOK TO THE FUTURE
With an overall turnover of more than €2.18 million in 2008, the Made in Italy kitchen sector is one of Italian industry’s top performers, able to combine profitability and high standards of quality. It is a sector with unquestionable international prestige that has always placed great emphasis on exports and which is tackling this critical phase for the world economy by reacting to inevitable repercussions without lowering its guard.
If the crisis made itself felt in 2008, with a drop in the sector’s turnover of 2.6% (figures from the Cosmit/FederlegnoArredo Research Centre), affected by the fall in sales of kitchens in Italy (-4.8%), this was compensated for by exports, which increased by 4% in 2008 and have an evermore positive effect on overall turnover, having reached 32.8% of production (+6.8% compared to 2007). Another important figure, which goes against the general drop in the number of jobs, regards the considerable stability in the number of people employed (+0.7%), while the trend of growth for company size continues.
“Our sector,” explains Patrizia Copat, export manager of Copat spa and chairperson of the Assarredo-Federlegno Arredo Kitchens Group, an organisation that represents all the most important Italian manufacturers, “is being affected by the international economic crisis, and yet Italian companies continue to invest abroad, channelling resources into international events like the showrooms”. The crisis, therefore, inspires clever ideas. This is how new ventures are started, perhaps by strengthening commercial ties in areas where the economy has shown no signs of faltering, like in Arab countries or India: clients from these emerging markets are often interested in “contract” arrangements where they buy turnkey furniture solutions for housing projects or large hotels.
“These commercial ties help make up for what is lost on the domestic market,” Patrizia Copat continued. “According to a SwgResearch study carried out for Federlegno, in the third two months of 2009, orders on the domestic market fell by 16% compared with the same period last year”. However, Italian kitchen manufacturers work with a precise strategy: “The tendency,” adds the chairperson of the Assarredo Kitchens Group, “is to not stop doing what was done in easier times. Now, more than ever, it is necessary to continue investing because when things come to a halt, it is difficult to get them moving again. The key words at the moment are investment and caution. And then it is also very important to continue research activities”. To do this, companies focus on using new materials and creating designs planned down to the smallest detail, something that has built the Made in Italy reputation all over the world: because a successful sector, at critical times, can keep its past prestige intact by launching itself resolutely into the future.