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NERO GIARDINI, ITALIAN PRODUCTION GROWS IN THE FACE OF THE CRISIS
A brand that has quickly gained ground in a key yet crowded sector of Italian-made goods, becoming an international benchmark.
This is Nero Giardini , a brand of shoes and accessories manufactured and distributed by Bag S.p.A. Founded in 1975 as a small manufacturing company for third parties, since 1998 Bag has been led by Enrico Bracalente, who has put his own stamp on the company. In just a few years, the brand saw record growth, becoming a leader in the crowded sector of footwear and accessories, with over 2,000 direct and indirect employees, 18,000 pairs of shoes produced per day, and a turnover reaching 193 million euro in 2013. All this with a milestone: promoting Italian production.
We asked Enrico Bracalente what his plans and expectations are for the company.
Your company holds a strong philosophy of Italian design and production, which promotes production in the footwear district of Fermo and Macerata. How did you manage to bring this philosophy forward in a time of economic crisis?
The decision not to relocate and the business strategies implemented in recent years have in fact rewarded us: after a decline in 2013, the first six months of 2014 made a positive balance sheet. Despite the macroeconomic environment still suffering from the global crisis, Bag has recorded an increase in turnover of 8%, and looks optimistically to the coming months, with the goal of closing 2014 with double-digit growth.
Do you operate abroad? What are your goals for growth?
Firstly, to consolidate Italy, where we are the leading brand in the sector, and then to set our sights abroad, especially Europe, with our solid product know-how that makes our lines synonymous with professionalism, quality, assurance and authenticity. Our goal is to achieve a total turnover of 500 million euros in the coming years. In 2014, our turnaround has already begun: today, 19% of turnover is generated from across the border (81% in Italy). The brand has a strong presence in Belgium, France, Spain, Austria, Russia and, in the future, it will invest primarily in other European countries where it does not yet have a presence, looking also to Arab and non-European markets. Yet our focus starts with Europe, since the consumer cultures and styles are more similar to the Italian market: in this context, Italian production and its strong identity through NeroGiardini can be immediately seen and promoted by the market.
Your strategy focuses very much on single branding; do think you will also grow with this approach abroad?
We aim soon to reach 100 single-brand retail outlets both in Italy and abroad. The stores must have the right location, in prestigious shopping streets or in major shopping malls. Currently, the company has 29 direct outlets in Italy and abroad, and 30 franchises, yet it places an equally strong focus on developing shop-in-shops within the major multi-brand chains.
Bag pays great attention to technology, how is that?
Bag in the Marche region boasts an innovative logistics platform of over 12,000 square metres, the first of its kind in Europe. This is an advanced, ultra-modern handling and storage system for goods. It is fully automated and can streamline and better organise the transport–storage–distribution chain. Not only that, the company is investing over 5% of its turnover (over 10 million euros per year) in research and development, figures that are often unthinkable for Italy, but which return in terms of know-how, professionalism and product quality.