The (absolute need) is to be found ready for when the market will recover and be unblocked. The important thing is to believe in oneself and in what makes Italy’s tanning segment what it is. Not just quality and fashion content, bust 360-degrees’ sustainability, circularity, research and innovation. Michele Matteoli, owner of Cuoificio Otello, president of Consorzio Conciatori Ponte a Egola and board member of UNIC – Italian Tanneries, discusses this topic and many more in this interview.
What kind of year was 2020 and what’s the general feeling for the current period?
I think that, generally speaking, as well as far as the Tuscan Leather cluster here goes, we will close the year with 30% to 40% less than 2019, which was already a year during which sales were slightly down from the previous year. We did notice something moving during the first couple weeks of 2021, but it’s way to early to make any realistic forecasts. Everything is ties to the understating of what effect the vaccination campaigns will have in the upcoming months.
What about your production?
No better or worse than leather, generally speaking. After all, during this pandemic people bought a few more sneakers. An elegant shoe, for men or women, wasn’t of interest because there was no occasion to use it. What we do like seeing is that, where it’s allowed, people do show they want to go back to how it used to be, which is comforting. This also leads us to believe that, when the recovery will take place, it could be stronger than we anticipate.
Ready for a recovery
How should Italy’s leather segment get ready?
The important thing is to continue doing what we have always done. For example: researching innovative products that are more performing and newer. All while, at the same time, focusing on the value we give to sustainability and circularity. We, as tanners, know it well, since we have been working on this aspect for over 20 years and continue to strive.
Businesses shouldn’t stop investing then?
It’s not easy to do, but that’s correct. Many tanneries took this time to plan and begin their investment plans, also thanks to financing options such as the one made available by the Region of Tuscany. We must believe in ourselves and invest, because this one of the ways we can be ready for when things pick up.
Changes and needs
How did the production model change these past few months?
As far as my business goes, I can say that we were ready and “immediately” able to respond to clients’ requests. In order to do so, we need to have products readily available and be covered as far as raw materials go. Considering that, being a part of vegetable-tanned leather, production is slower, the management of the materials in warehouses becomes of paramount importance.
What does Italy’s tanning segment need today?
We need a country that helps entrepreneurs directly, so as to avoid a crisis in liquidity.
Will mergers and acquisitions continue along the chain?
I believe so. Because it’s a valid path that has been walked for a few years now and became a reality with many important operations. We hear rumors of other deals being made. I think that’s a positive sign.
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- Fabrizio Masoni: tanneries need an evolved vision
- Filippo Francioni: we must “sell” our leather better
- The priorities of Italian leather: Interview with Fabrizio Nuti (UNIC)
- The next future of Italian leather: an interview with Luca Pretto (Pasubio)
- Chiara Mastrotto: this way tanneries can take on emergency