A startup with 100 years of history. It comes from Tolentino, Marche, the news regarding the reopening of production and sale programs of one of the eldest Italian tanneries. The investments made by Invitalia and AVM Sustainability are relaunching Conceria del Chienti (CTC). Founded in 1923, the company went through a few complicated periods that nearly brought it to shut down. Yet, thanks to “the resilience part of the DNA of women and men working at CTC”, says CEO Marco Luppa, the tannery surpassed its grim destiny and enters a new development phase. The tannery has ambitious objectives and has become a case study for the segment in which public and private investors have purchased partial ownership.
The relaunch operation
“Sustainability, circular economy, and innovation are the keys to the new “skin” of Conceria del Chienti”, reads a press release. A new “skin” that was created thanks to the cession of part of the capital of CTC to Invitalia and AVM Sustainability: the first took 49% and the second 51%. The operation is founded on the concept that the tannery is turning into a ‘Benefit Company’. “The forecasted investment is of 14 million euro. 10 will be provided by the new shareholders that nominated Andrea Stopper (majority shareholder of AVM Sustainability) as president of the Board of Directors. The vice-president will be Daniele Straventa (Senior Investment Manager of Invitalia) and Carlo Piccinini (advisor with AVM Gestioni SGR) and Raffaele Ferrara (ex-General Director at Agenzia delle Entrate) as advisors.
A 100-year-old startup
The startup CTC “will be green and 4.0. It plans on relying heavily on renewable energy, circular economy processes to reduce waste, product customization and chain traceability”, explains Luppa. “It’s easy to make high-quality products – continues the CEO that ferried CTC into this new phase -, if you have good raw materials and 100 years of history behind you. Now we want to make all our processes more circular and innovative. For us sustainability must be culture, not just a parameter. Products that are sustainable for the environment will also be sustainable for the market and our community”.
Conceria del Chienti
Conceria del Chienti opened in 1923 with the name Conceria Francesco Barbotti, specializing itseld in high-quality calf leather. It changes name to the current one in 1943, and in 2014 it signs an international partnership with Chinese Jiuha Group, to exit a phase of difficulty. Yet, due to governmental reasons, the Chinese cancelled all their investments between 2017 and 2019, leaving CTC to fend for itself. “In order to avoid closing – says Luppa -, we looked for alternative solutions. Within the path, Covid slowed us down, but in the end we managed. And if we were able to do that, we also need to thank Mirko Bartoloni and Emilio Macellari, industrial and financial directors (respectively) at Tod’s, as they guaranteed continuity in orders and more”.
One year ago, CTC entered the Registro Speciale Dei Marchi Storici Di Interesse Nazionale (Special registry of historic brands with national interest). It’s a turning point for the brand’s relaunch: being a part of it, says Straventa, allows the Tolentino tannery to access the “Safeguard Fund”. Invitalia’s latest operation is added to some that were previously conducted to save brands Corneliani and Combipel.
“In most cases – continues Straventa -, Invitalia operates with market logics, and so in this instance too it needed a co-investor. We had to dig deep to evaluate the feasibility of the investment and to ensure that it would be fully oriented towards an SGS and circular optic. We found the right partner, because AVM carries out this mission while respecting CTC’s heritage and its social responsibility”. Forecasts? “Invitalia has a time constraint and is forced to continue holding shares of CTC for 5 years. When we enter a company, we create the governance conditions to accompany the business and, at our exit, it will be able to stand on its own”.
AVM Sustainability is the club deal promoted by some of AVM Gestioni Sgr’s partners. “The fund – explains Andrea Stopper – never invested in companies to be restructured, nor in tanneries. We evaluated the investment with great attention to understand the strong potential that derives from the history of Conceria del Chienti”. A potential “also tied to the fact it’s the only tannery of a manufacturing district that has made leather its essence”.
”What convinced us – repeats Piccinini – is the vision of conviction that Marco Luppa has. It seemed like an investment that fell outside of our operating line, but we realized the deal is within our competence”. Why? “For its intrinsic circularity and the fact that we share the values with Invitalia. We found ourselves sharing a project that preserves and relaunches the know-how and that will have a positive impact on the territory”.
In photo, on the left: standing Manuele Fermanelli (Head of programming), Andrea Stopper (president of the BoD), Sergio Svampa (Finishing), Luca Mariotti (Technical) Renzo Bisonni (purchasing and IT); in lower section, Carlo Piccinini (BoD member), Andrea Rascioni (Head of tanning), Marco Luppa (CEO) Daniele Straventa (VP of the BoD)