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QUALITY AND TRADITION: THE MANIAGO KNIFE DISTRICT OVERCOMES THE CRISIS
History, tradition, quality and flexibility: these have proved to be the recipe for combatting the economic crisis for the Maniago knife and metal district in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Stefano Filipuzzi, president of the administrative council of ASDI (the Agency for the Development of the Industrial District) explained the situation: “Despite the many and obvious commercial difficulties it has faced, the Maniago production district seems to have re-established the same position and the same overall results it recorded in the period immediately prior to the first economic crisis of 2008-2009.
This has been achieved because our district has always been able to rely on a number of strengths that are not found in every context.
Above all, we have a tradition dating back over 600 years in relation to manufacturing blades and cutlery, and this can prove very significant in a commercial sense in markets which are sensitive to history and the past: such as American markets, for example.
Then there’s the flexibility of our production base, made possible by an interconnected network of many small businesses, and the consistent quality of our workforce, highly specialised in the craft of metal-working.
Finally, there are the positive results we have achieved as a result of large investments made in past years by the Knife and Metal ASDI, designed to help promote the district and its “QManiago" brand”. The figures speak for themselves: in 2012, turnover for the district was equivalent to 591,600, 000 Euros, an overall increase of about 6% on 2009 (the last results before the crisis), while the average export quota of the various companies amounted to about 40%, although with differences in relation to the two different fields in which these businesses operate.
As Stefano Filipuzzi pointed out: “The first sector – that of the cutlery manufacturers – consists of around 75 companies, most of them small or micro enterprises and employing an overall total of about 500 people. This section registered an export quota equivalent to about 26 million Euros. The metal-working sector, on the other hand, is composed of a hundred businesses employing about 1600 workers, and recorded an export quota equivalent to 210 million Euros.
The most important market continues to be Europe, accounting for 43% of foreign turnover (38% in EU countries and 5% in non-EU states). However, the American market is close behind with 40%, followed by Asia with 8%, the African continent with 5%, and then Australia with 4%.” He added: “Although it is true that the system of small and medium-sized businesses in Maniago has traditionally based its competitive strength on its relationships in the local context – the so-called “short” supply chains – it is now becoming increasingly vital to establish links with production and marketing systems which operate at international level – the so-called “long” supply chains – even pursuing active programmes of internationalisation.”