“A mini Bianchi and Nardi dedicated to small leather goods”. The Florentine leather goods company introduces us to the plant specialising in the production of leather wallets, key rings and beauty cases launched in 2019, just before the pandemic, next to its Scandicci headquarters (photo, on the left). “This is the first time we are producing our cousins small leather goods. Making a bag and making a wallet are two very different things,” explains Laura Nardi, a member of the board of directors of Bianchi e Nardi 1946, along with Gabriele and Giulia Bianchi and Alessandro and Andrea Nardi.
How have you organised the new factory?
It is a mini Bianchi and Nardi. While the central company employs 90 people, here there are 12, engaged in the development and production of small leather goods. Apart from belts, which we do externally. The pattern-making remains in the belly, but we have done training courses in-house, because the construction of the products changes a lot.
How is it working?
We have been lucky. Our customers make a lot of small leather goods and have welcomed our proposal to produce this type of product for them too. This way there is a double advantage: there is a recovery of the raw material, and a circularity in the reuse of leather scraps. By using the leather production waste, there is an economic saving for the customers and a sustainable activity.
An optimised workflow?
That’s right. Even the logistics and quality control of the leather is handled in the central company only once. Of course, the materials used for the bags and accessories in a collection are the same. Since we produce everything ourselves, the costs are absorbed.
Small leather goods and more
Why produce small leather goods? Is it a growth sector?
No, that’s not why. It was an internal choice. We wanted to diversify and grow. Then the numbers for small leather goods have always been higher than for leather goods. At the moment, we can produce 2,000 pieces a month. We are very satisfied.
What else is new in the pipeline?
Three years ago we opened another plant in partnership with an American brand, for which we do product development and part of the production, only of high-end leather goods. It is a hub that is totally independent from our headquarters, and has its own pattern-making and back office.
How is your post-pandemic recovery going?
The signs are positive. We are now starting to see things moving. Until spring/early summer everything was very volatile. Stratospheric orders came in, then were cancelled. Then, perhaps also because of the vaccination campaign, there was a positive turnaround. We are emerging from a war. We haven’t lost our most stable and important customers, but some have gone astray, sometimes without paying. But we can’t complain. We have learned to work in such difficult conditions that we are now used to an incredible level of flexibility. Those who survived have grown and improved.