mercoledì 30 novembre 2011

More than one single Italy

Next post Friday December 2nd
sorry for the delay to Monday December 5th

There are actually many Italy in our country.
There is a nation which is suffering for the crisis, one nation that is injured by the losses of the Stock exchange market. A country which is surviving and a country which is growing unharmed.  We are talking of about 5 millions Small and Medium Enterprises which have ideas that can be transformed in success and cash.
Recently  in New York some of these last Italian companies presented their excellence to potential American investors. Searching for business angels.
Some of these companies are already listed at Piazza Affari and were looking for new fund to grow faster and faster.: Primaindustrie, Savelli, Centervue, Cascaad to name some.
That means that our economy can be described as solid and ready to benefit from foreigners investors or suppliers able to provide their added value to Italian companies.
Italian strengths are easy to spot: flexibility, creativity, innovation, quality. If we are able to mix all these atout in a right way, without compromise and without undesirable pride, we can be really overcome any kind of competition, Especially that  based on low price/low quality.
But not all the Italian companies are able to find the best formula.
The question is: how can you recognize the different entrepreneurs?
The answer in our next post.

domenica 27 novembre 2011

Braziling Italy

Next post Tuesday November 30th

Networking is the mantra: let’s find common goals and let’s share our clients so that anyone can profit. And it actually works.
So  met a team of high level professionals that knows very well the Brazilian market,  one of the emerging markets of the globe, to find out ways to support Italian companies willing to invest over there.
What I wasn’t aware of is that the reverse flow is very rich and powerful. I mean Brazilian entrepreneurs and companies investing in Italy.
Why that? Because at present prices in Italy, for real estate or for launching new industrial initiatives or services, are so low that this is the best moment to invest and found new companies.
Around Bologna a newco promoting discounted vouchers, like Groupon or Groupalia are doing, was just presented and got a great success.
UK investors are looking with interest to the Italian market, and their experience is based on many years of good results as you can guess by the fact that the wine area around Florence is now called Chiantishire….
Many good industrial companies are also suffering from the father-sons factor. I mean that it seems not so easy to transfer the company from the founder or the second generation owner to the new generations, for many reasons which do not deserve time talking about.
A simple example: the well known and very powerful retail chain Esselunga is still managed by the founder which is about ninty, and will likely sold to foreigners company (walmart is claimed to be priority one).
Sp, why don’t considering to invest in Italy or sell in Italy as a good opportunity?

giovedì 24 novembre 2011

What's going on in Italy? Why this new government?

Next post Sunday November 27th

I'm not a politician neither a political journalist and I just try to understand about politics the right required to vote in a wise and aware way. But since I’m a consultant and need to know more about economy, I therefore need to know more about politics. And what’s happening today in my country where a government legitimately elected by the people felt down in the Parliament not reaching the minimum 308 vote and was replaced by a new government chosen by the Italian President, with no link to the Italian voters, was approved by the Parliament with 561 votes thus reaching an unbeatable record.
The fact is that we have been taught to reject sacrifices: we have been taught by all institutional forces (parties, media, trade unions and so on) that we have rights, we have dreams, we have expectations that we must fulfill and claim, but we have no duty.
And that’s weird, but not uncommon since Plato and Aristotle had already described this in the past when they said that democracy could bring to dissolution.
Actually to stay at the top you need votes and to get votes what do you think could be the easiest way: ask for sacrifices (I cannot promise you but blood, sweat and tears) or assure benefits and wellness?
So what do you believe parties and trade unions did in the past, in a situation where you do not have to promise blood, sweat and tears.
Now it’s of course harder to recover. That’s why we have a new government not supported by one single party, so that everyone can claim that it was not his fault to vote for a new tax or a cut in benefits.
Let’s hope that this is the best way to re-launch our economy, which by the way as we wrote in our previous posts, is not doing so bad even if we cannot claim that the crisis is not here in Italy.
Does this help to understand what’s going on chez nous?

sabato 19 novembre 2011

Italian fact and figures. Off the records.

Next post Thursday November 24th

Here some other data that can be used to understand what Italy is
I collect them in the first weeks of November  and they seem to me impressive to describe an healthy market.
Let’s talk of the packaging industry: the results are amazing. The growth of last 12 months brought the industry back to the results that were reached before the financial crisis. Some figures:  the increase in export sales to Brazil: 63,4%,  to the US +100,9%  and finally to Turky +113,1% .
The improvement in export sales boosted the level of employment in the southern regions of Italy.  The figure is impressive: in the last twelve months 40.000 new jobs were created in the companies exporting their goods.
From south to North: a recent market study presented last week in a official seminar in Piedmont confirmed that the shortfall due to the local crisis, mainly caused by the underperformance of the automotive industry, was mostly recovered by export. 
And  what about fashion? Both Natuzzi than Piquadro increased their sales and invested in new initiatives. Piquadro launched is new line of leather accessories, fully tailor-made , opening the first of new retail chain in Hong Kong.
What about the water industry? The Italian owner of San Benedetto waters bought back the shares once sold, thus solving the joint venture with Danone and Coke and winning back the full control of the company .
Are these figures describing a depressed country? A hopeless country? A static country?
Do not trust everything the media tell you, go searching for figures and facts. And come to sell to Italy. Or invest her.

lunedì 14 novembre 2011

Italy from its entrepreneurs' perspective

Next post Thursday November 17th due to technical problems (no time and the on going process of new Italian government) next post is delayed to Monday November 21st. Sorry for that and thank you for your patience. 

I had the chance to talk with two entrepreneurs recently, one is the owner of a medium chemical company with an international market while the second one was actually the HR Director of a big company in the coal market. They were describing me the success of their companies, growing in competitive markets. None of the two companies is present in the Italian stock exchange.  So in some way their good performances are not recorded and are not taken into account while describing the statistical situation of Italy. 
Let me start from these news to get back to the economical climate in our country. Some days ago our primer minister claimed that there is no crisis in Italy since restaurants are overbooked and you cannot reserve easily a vacation.
Well it may be overestimated and too sharply said, but that it is not far from the truth.
Although the crisis bites hard and a lot of people are under pressure, especially professional people and consultants are the first in the row, the general trend could be described as clouded but sunny.
Some segments are suffering indeed, some others on the contrary are growing, and growing fast.
Let’s talk about banks as an example: we all know that banks could be defined the core problem of this financial crisis, and their present position is what seems to jeopardize the whole western economy status.
That’s not completely true in Italy. Yes, we do have big banks, big names, but we also have a lot of small local banks, founded to support local agricultural entrepreneurs or craftsmen. Small local banks, mostly based on an cooperative approach, who were not affected by greed or the desire to grow mainly through derivatives and speculations. Many of them are not even quoted at the Stock Exchange market.
And they are solid, still able to support the growth of their clients. Who are mainly small enterprise, craftsmen, farmer.
And who are considering to export and supply a global market. They need to mature and change approach and mentality. That’s true. But they are solid, someone maybe not strong, not even weak and fragile.
Isn’t this a good reason to consider Italy as an interesting market? 

giovedì 10 novembre 2011

Italian saving and expenditure

Next post Monday November 14th

We are trying to understand what’s going on in Italy and why even in the middle of a storming crisis our country, the so called Belpaese, could be an interesting target for investment.
In my previous post I tried to depict the climate where we are living in: a situation were everyone believes to have a lot of rights and no duties, because we have been taught to.
So we may not profoundly perceive what the crisis truly is and we are in some way be dancing on the  deck of the sinking Titanic.
This is not a social or political post, so we won’t discuss the reasons and causes: just the facts and situations. And it’s a matter of fact that Italians are used to live healthy, very often at a standard higher than the one they should really consider.
But we are also a country where family saving are relevant. It is true that our people saved and preserved much more money than other countries. Well at least it was till a couple of years ago. Although it diminished it is still a not insignificant aspect to consider. As this study shows a lot of Italian families even during the crisis have been able to make savings that ConfCommercio evaluates   around 105.000 million €.
Another interesting factor to be consider is that about half of the Italian population works for the State or the Public Administration.  What does this mean? Well from one side this could be considered as one of the cause, (the main one?) of all our problems; on the other hand this is a factor of stability and safety. Since these guys will never be fired nor will lose their salary and thus represent a real market.

lunedì 7 novembre 2011

What's happening in Italy?

Next post Thursday November 10th

I’d like to spend some post to explain what’s happening in Italy and what is actually Italy, because I believe that due to some political reason I do not what to consider, Italy’s image is under attack. And it’s is fair to clarify what is actually bad and what it is distorted by the international newspapers and magazines which do not like our premier and tend then to fire against the whole nation.

We are not an easy country. It’s a matter of fact: reliability can be an issue and the honor that was once one of our founding values is no more so… widespread like in the past.
We like the easy life and it is almost true that even in the middle of this storming crisis, restaurants are overbooked and you can’t easily find a vacation spot. Is this due to a general welfare or, more likely, to a prevalent unawareness, a sort of  unperceived unconsciousness?

We have been taught by our politicians, by our trade unions, by the advertisements, by the televisions that we are a good people, that we deserve everything and that we just have to step up and take it. This was done for several reasons: politicians –most of them, independently from the party they were in-  wanted to be elected again and rule. Trade unions wanted to reach their goal and increase their power. Advertisement…. well  you know.

So we ended up believing that we just have rights and no duty. And that is a true issues nowadays, in a middle of a hard crisis.

But on the other hand we survived a lot of crisis and there is one reason: we are truly different from any other western country. Not better, not worst: just different.

When you consider the economy of a country you look at the stock exchange, you look at the main groups and you consider what they are doing.
Well Italian companies, which as I already wrote, are mainly family companies, are not public companies. Less then 10% of the Italian companies are quoted at the Stock Exchange Market. Now how can you tell the state of our economy just cheching what’s happening at piazza Affari?

We can look naives and our creativity can be considered manipulation or a perennial ageless trial to survive difficult times without planning: do we really live thanks to  “expedients”?
It might be, but that creativity helped us to survive so many difficult times we learnt from it how to manage any hurdle. That’s why we are growing much more that it looks like.

giovedì 3 novembre 2011

The growth of Italian Districts

Next post Monday November 7th

Some figures sometime can help to take decision, to make up one’s mind.

Why should one invest to sell into the Italian market?

We have seen in our previous posts both the different mentality you have to face if you want to approach Italian clients, so I’d like today in this post to list all the recent figures that should be considered.

Every quarter the Intesa San Paolo Monitor uses to publish a study about the state of the technological districts. The last one, dated September 2011, showed a great increase in exporting: more than 2,2 billion euros more than in 2010, a growth of 12,9%, the fifth two digit growth in a row for Italian companies.
The main districts that improved their export sales are the following ones:

  • leather and shoes in Tuscany and around Fermo (Marche)
  • textile industry (Biella)
  • mechanical industry (North East)
  • packaging industry (Bologna)

What is relevant is that about the half of the districts totally recover what they lost during the harsh crisis (2008 and 2009) thus reaching the same level of export they had before the crisis.
Italy may not be Germany, but the SME, once more I say the true backbone of Italy, is growing rapidly and with innovation, and creativity: you cannot increase export this way if you are not able to compete smartly.
Just one word about the concept of districts: the Italian industry presents a lot of “island” where you can find several manufacturing companies producing the same product or a very similar one. A concentration of companies that represents the best producers of that kind of product. Just to name some (North to South):

  • Textile around Biella, Vercelli, Novara
  • Taps and valves around Borgomanero
  • Silk in the Como area
  • Gold and jewelry  close to Vicenza
  • Mechanical components along the via Emilia between Parma and Bologna
  • Leather in Tuscany
  • Shoes around Fermo

and many more.