Adaptation and foresight: Vecchia Toscana’s first 65 years

Adaptation and foresight: Vecchia Toscana's first 65 years

“The strength of a company is knowing how to adapt“. For tanning group Vecchia Toscana, founded in 1957 in Ponte a Cappiano (Fucecchio), this is the secret to reaching 65 years of age and remaining competitive on the market. “My grandfather Guglielmo founded the company together with his brothers, then in ’81 my father took over,” says Francesco Testai, born in 1989. “My grandfather died young, at 61, it was 1991, and my father Valerio (current CEO, ed.) took over at a very early age. I, on the other hand, joined in 2015, after graduating in Management Engineering”. The company celebrated the anniversary with an evening dedicated to the 65 employees and historical suppliers: a dinner set up right in front of the factory. “We wanted everyone to experience the workplace out of the stress of everyday life. After all this time, we wanted an occasion to be together“.

Vecchia Toscana Group

Vecchia Toscana Group is headed by the homonymous tannery: the historical division that mainly produces leather for medium-high and high-end leather goods. Then, there is the brand Multipel, specialising in calfskins and half calfskins for casual and sports footwear (with production in Tuscany). And, finally, Ilcea, a historic tanning company in Turin that was taken over after its bankruptcy in 2015, and focused on the finishing of calfskins for men’s and women’s high- and very high-end footwear. “With this group approach, we are able to cover several sectors, ” says Testai.

Entrepreneurial vision

“Changes are so fast that the winner is the one who can predict what will happen, the one who can foresee the changes in the market,” continues Francesco Testai. “For us, the tannery has to be a great example of an artisan enterprise,” the entrepreneur continues. “The company that is too small cannot cope with customer demands, such as service and certifications. But, on the other hand, it is necessary to maintain an artisan approach, a production capacity of consistent quantities, but with flexible management“.

A challenge met

“In 2019, before the pandemic, our turnover was around €29 million. Then the pandemic put a strain on us (in 2020: 17.5 million, ed), but we are catching up. In 2021, we reached 21.5 million euros and in the first half of 2022 we grew by a further 25 per cent. We estimate at the end of the year to be able to close around €24/25 million in turnover: +20% compared to 2021,” Testai explains. “The biggest problem is the rising costs of electricity, gas and chemicals. There is a recovery, but also very high inflation. The tariffs for all our consumption have doubled, including transport and packaging. This must also lead to an adjustment of price lists. It is not speculation, it is survival“.

Ecological transition

“The challenge ahead of us now is sustainability and ecological transition. This year we are publishing the Sustainability Report for the year 2021. We have done this by following international standards”. But also, “to write a roadmap of our impact on the environment and understand how we can improve to reduce it more and more, ” Testai concludes. “We have made an energy diagnosis to change working habits in the departments and reduce consumption. We changed boilers in 2021 and by February 2022 we had reduced gas consumption by 35 per cent (saving around EUR 200,000 in one year) and we were far-sighted and lucky“.

In the photos: right, Francesco and Valerio Testai; left, the tannery department of Vecchia Toscana; in the box, a moment of the dinner celebrating 65 years of the Ponte a Cappiano tannery  

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