To pursue the line of sustainability and effectively implement a more and more circular economy model. On top of that, to consider 2020 as an extremely disruptive year which, right because of this reason, has urged (and will keep urging) tanneries to set a structurally evolutive approach. This is the only way tanneries will manage to successfully take on the current emergency. In the following interview, Chiara Mastrotto (president of Gruppo Mastrotto, headquartered in Arzignano, she has recently become a member of the General Board of UNIC – Italian Tanneries) depicts the present and prospective outlook for Italy’s leather tanning industry.
To begin with, please comment on your joining the General Board of UNIC – Italian Tanneries …
I proudly accepted the invitation to become a member of UNIC General Board with deep sense of responsibility. In line with the association’s attitude of mind, I will commit to the enhancement of our industry to take on together the present and future challenges while acting as lucidly and sensibly as we can, looking ahead to long-term scenarios.
Italian leather priorities
In your opinion, which are the two main priorities of Italian leather industry?
On the one hand, to safeguard and promote the competitiveness of our businesses on international markets. On the other hand, to keep on course and strengthen our journey on the way to sustainability, formerly set by UNIC some years ago. In fact, economic recovery new models must guarantee both environmental and social sustainability: looking at the leather industry playground, it is supposed to go hand in hand with a more and more circular economy model.
To take on emergency
Considering your business outlook, how did things go throughout 2020?
2020 turned out to be an extremely “disruptive” year as health emergency has inevitably led to heavy economic consequences on a worldwide scale. Focusing on our company, I can say that lockdown urged us to make progress and change. We have relied on resilience and, at the same time, we managed to set some contingency plans and take quick steps to tackle emergencies promptly: we have been closely liaising with all our employees in the company.
More specifically, we have been striving hard to safeguard our workers’ health and ensure healthy workplaces; furthermore, we have done our best to fulfil our customers’ new needs in terms of service, logistics, product development and digital experience. Since the end of summer orders have fairly picked up: yet, despite that, I believe it will take a long time to get back to our previous business standards prior to Covid-19 outbreak.
Talking about that, what are your expectations for 2021?
Due to several economic predictions and, most of all, the upcoming kick-off of the vaccination campaign, which will subsequently foster a beneficial recovery of buyers’ confidence and tourism travels, we may believe that next year our business will start enjoying a widespread and general “economic new boost”. We will have to work in close contact with the whole of our customers, who are always the core of our processes, and build up a particularly strong service and innovation partnership. However, we will presumably have to wait until 2022-23 before our sales reach again 2019 volumes.
The acquisitions trend
In 2020 lots of acquisitions and grouping combinations took place, across the whole industry, at various levels. Do you reckon such trend, which has been going on for a few years, is bound to continue in 2021 as well? Why?
As a matter of fact, our industry follows such specific trend as much as other sectors do likewise. Furthermore, the tanning industry deals with market fragmentation and, in addition, is part of the supply chain of some industries, namely fashion and automotive, where major brands and international players actively work. That is why I personally think that such trend is going to continue in the future as well.