Present and future of Italian leather: Gianni Russo’s Interview

Present and future of Italy’s leather: Gianni Russo’s Interview

There are 3 key words: quality, timing and service. Something Gianni Russo, president of UNIC – Italian Tanneries and of Russo di Casandrino, mentions multiple times as he analyzes the present and future of Italian leather segment with one acknowledgment: “The absolute uncommonality of the tragedy we experienced and the situation now”. Everything “makes it difficult to make forecast and projections – he explains -. It’s to be understood that Italy’s leather segment will close 2020 with very few certainties and tools to navigate such time. Of course, this is a general consideration that may not be applicable for all cases. Luckily, there are brands that, together with their suppliers, are exceptions to this thought”.

Present and future of Italian leather

“The tanning segment must further elevate its responsiveness in terms of the service it offers, the timing with which it delivers and the capability of satisfying the qualitative needs of the clients”, continues UNIC’s president.

And so, the need to repeat the 3 key words that make up a single winning concept: upgrading. “Yes – states Mr. Russo -: an upgrade that makes tanneries more qualified, one that that respects the ever more stringent delivery schedules and that asks for impeccable service. It will be necessary to be faster and be more attentive to clients, as in this sort of environment competition increases exponentially”.

All this, without forgetting the matter of sustainability: “This upgrade bust be based on constantly improving all that is green: alternative tanning, environmental protection and all that is necessary to make sure that the tannery is a good example of green economy”.


Quality, timing and service become “pre-requisites for tanneries to weather the storm”. In addition to return, with determination, to “pre-Covid production volume – says UNIC’s president -. If the levels aren’t to return to previous amounts, the segment’s business model would need to be reviewed”.

What could happen in 2021, then? “My opinion – says Mr. Russo -, is that the first half of the year will slowly normalize and will return to how it was, in ways of working and living, but not economically speaking. Our activity is, after all, based on consumption and until flights don’t take off as they used to, and people don’t buy like in the past, it will be difficult to see structural recovery”.

There are some positive signals: “Luxury brands in China are selling record amounts in their boutiques. And the online revenue generated is growing, becoming a pulling force in our segment. It’s a “new” channel and the growth of reference portals during the pandemic demonstrated that people’s ways of purchasing are changing”.

Creative encouragement

Not all is lost. On the contrary “I feel and state – concludes Mr. Russo – a strong request for what is new and has stylistic research behind it. I see it as a sort of virtuous comeback of what until today wasn’t really imaginable. Italy’s research and creativity are a pulling force that must represent an encouraging sign and a response to a situation that couldn’t have been contemplated just a few months ago”.

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