Conceria Cristina celebrates 50 years towards the future: an interview with Valter Peretti

Intervista a Valter Peretti per i 50 anni di Conceria Cristina

When someone celebrates an important anniversary, like the one we are going to tell you about, he can make a very simple choice. He may focus on the past and tell about its most meaningful steps, therefore making an analysis of his past life and events. Alternatively, one can turn his standpoint upside down and look ahead (most of all) towards the future, thinking about his plans underway and prospective accomplishments to achieve. Perhaps this attitude of mind, applied to their own entrepreneurial project, is the magic formula for the longevity of Conceria Cristina and Peretti Group, which progressively developed around it. “One must be persuaded he is doing something valuable and important. We must invest, a great deal, while first focusing on the company, then on the entrepreneur. You must be lucky and find some devote partners, ready to share your own development idea. These are the essential factors: no secrets whatsoever”. Such are the remarks made by Valter Peretti, owner of the Group: we had an interview with him during the celebration of Conceria Cristina’s 50th anniversary. His father, Graziano Peretti, founded the tannery in 1969.

To invest a great deal

“Since 1969 to present days things have been changing many times – points out Peretti –. Likewise, tanners’ modus operandi has been changing as well”. Of course, every modification urges, inevitably, to reconsider one’s own strategy to meet the market: “When my father started up the business, he made an investment and built a plant that was providing good work conditions and suitable spaces. He also had to buy some more machinery”. Today, conversely, “other than intermediate stages, you must invest especially in research and development, in order to hone technologies, which are supposed to be more and more efficient in terms of manufacturing. On top of that, they must be, most of all, more and more environmentally friendly, therefore reducing impact and effects, making tanneries a better place to work and striving hard to achieve sustainability”.

Sustainability: it is not year zero

“Sustainability” is no more just a simple term. It is rather kind of mantra, at this point. “I have been working in the company for 42 years, since 1977 – emphasizes Peretti –. Looking back, I must say that our company and Italian tanneries, in general, have been a great deal committed to enhancing sustainability. Yet, looks like everyone is supposed to start again from year zero now: personally, I strongly disagree with such way to address the issue”. Peretti is very straightforward while speaking out and explaining his point of view: “As regards sustainability, this is not the year zero for tanneries and the leather industry. Although we can still do things better, we cannot be under investigation: players who have just started addressing the sustainability issue are not entitled to judge what we have done so far. Even though we must still improve, we have already faced and tackled environment historic changes: now we have to deal with continuous enhancements”.

The portrayal of sustainability

“At the beginning, attention to sustainability and green attitude – explains Peretti – were just springing, speaking frankly, from law obligations. Yet, subsequently, in the leather industry all players, including myself, have become progressively aware of the importance of protecting and safeguarding the environment”. This is the consequence of it: “Today, as far as I am concerned, a strong sense of responsibility drives my green-oriented choices: caring about environment is beneficial to our company and makes you feel better as well. In other words, such attitude generates an important personal satisfaction”. This is the real sustainability, not the portrayal of sustainability”.

2,000 trees (and much more)

Aiming to show that leather industry is sustainable, in a tangible and prospective way, Peretti has illustrated his Group’s green work in progress. “We are planning to invest in human resources to employ in our research, quality and sustainability departments. We are also about to implement a few projects to enhance energy efficiency, for which we have already approved necessary investments. We are going to start them in the next few months: supposedly, they will enable us to reduce about 25% of our energy needs”. In addition, “we are planning to carry out several research whose aim is to reduce consumption of chemicals and develop, at the same time, new product lines”. Ultimately, “we have decided to plant 2,000 trees in a plot of land right next to our tannery. We are going to create a mixed wood, filled with 5 types of trees”. What are we getting at? “To offset our emissions of CO2. According to estimates, in three to four years we shall succeed in limiting around 20 tons of CO2 per year”. When will you begin? “We are preparing the land: next spring we shall plant trees, right behind our tannery”.

The generation factor

Peretti’s third generation has joined, a while ago, Conceria Cristina. In fact, Eleonora and Stefano Peretti are, respectively, Quality Supervisor for Environment and Safety and Sales Manager of the Group. “Their playground – points out Peretti – turns out to be more competitive, globalized and complicated than the scenario I was dealing with, when I first joined the tannery. In fact, at that time, demand was overcoming supply. You just had to be smart and put effort into your work: that was enough to find new markets and business opportunities. Today, conversely, there is not much more to discover. Undoubtedly, they will have to cope with more difficulties and problems than I had to”.

A mark of reliability

On the one hand, the overall context is (much) more complicated. Yet, on the other hand, the leather industry proves to be much more reliable and modern than it used to be in the past. “Ten years ago – remarks Peretti – it would have been unimaginable, to our industry, to get the support of funds and institutional investors. Their latest operations, instead, prove to be a mark of reliability: in fact, they show our tanneries’ evolution with regard to administration, management and transparency. The most important companies are very much in the clear and deeply attract potential investors. On top of that, we can look everyone in the eye, from our top clients till the last ones in the rankings”. Speaking about his group’s possibilities to draw new funds, Peretti makes clear that “potentially it could be a feasible option for our company as well. Yet, we can hardly figure out prospective changes. We are doing well the way we are. We still have to strengthen a few recent business activities, but we do not rule out any prospective change option. I do believe that size is essential even in our industry. Time for small is good is over”.

The Miura deal

One of their “recent projects” has been the acquisition of Miura Tuscan tannery (they bought it out in June 2018): “We have carried it out while aiming to complete our range of items directed at a specific target of clients. We keep working in this direction, and we are not planning to change our mind at all. Although the overall economic scenario is rather difficult indeed, I think Miura will benefit from its being part of a group that can guarantee, for its business, a more comforting outlook”.

To qualify production

Yet, it is hard to chill out and get fully relaxed while dealing with the current business situation. “Unfortunately, for sure though, in a short while we are bound to come across a supply selection. All the manufacturing industry worldwide is currently facing tough times. Looking at the overall scenario, we must consider economy global slowdown and take appropriate action accordingly”.  What shall we do then? “We do not really have to focus our efforts on augmenting production – wraps up Peretti –. I rather think we had better qualify our product supply alongside our modus operandi. In so doing, we shall be able to overcome this difficult moment”.

Quite a challenging mission to accomplish in the next 50 years.

In the picture, left: Stefano, Valter and Eleonora Peretti (photo by Beatrice Vesprini / Polimoda)

 

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