Strong and representative: Gianni Russo explains UNIC’s evolution

Forte e rappresentativa: Gianni Russo spiega l’evoluzione di UNIC

“UNIC is strong and authoritative. The association has reached a high degree of representativity. Many large tanning groups have understood our exceptionality and have decided to join us. Our path continues to be very exciting”. Gianni Russo, president of UNIC – Italian Tanners, summarizes the structural changes of the association after the assembly that took place on December 3rd was concluded. The transformation continues, and opens new doors.

Can we say that UNIC concluded its first transitional period and kicked-off the second one with the assembly on December 3rd?

Absolutely. The appointment of new trustees represents my first step towards this chosen path. During my mandate, we began undergoing a fairly complex transformation process., based on our solidity, cohesion and experience of the current Committee. We simplified the Group’s structure. Conducted internal audits and Consolidated our financial position. Moreover, we offered real benefits for all our members. Today, marks the end of the first phase of this change. And so, we decided it was necessary to open-up to new characters and forces that can contribute new ideas and innovational pushes.

Where is UNIC’s and Italy’s tanning segment’s future headed?

We have many ambitious projects that will develop thanks to the members’ consensus towards UNIC, which is absolute. Nothing nor anybody has been able to make a mark on our good work. That is proven by the fact that we had 148 members in 2015, when I took charge, while we have 172 today. But, even more meaningful, is the percentage of revenue we represent out of the whole industry in Italy: 68% against the 48% we used to have in 2015. An extraordinary result that by itself testifies to UNIC’s credibility and usefulness. I find myself in the condition, based on the new association’s bylaws, to leave the presidency in 2020. But I am able to do knowing that my mandate was challenging, but more than anything passionate.

What is UNIC working on

First of all, sustainability. Even if we are affected by rumors that we don’t seem to be able to shake off, Italian tanners have an extremely high-degree of innovation and R&D investments. The majority of those are finalized to increase our sustainable practices even more. The 2019 Report that we presented, documents how sustainability is a value that we have built over time. It also shows how we pursued this goal with tenacity, with tools and costs that we took care of, obtaining, let me say, extraordinary results. This edition of the Sustainability Report series is the 16th, and has gotten better than the previous one: it doesn’t just keep up with the segment’s data, but rather it analyzes them in light of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development’s Goals.

A sustainable approach that gets more innovative and useful…

It couldn’t be otherwise. UNIC, in this sense, sides with Italian tanneries by offering modern consultancy services and tools. These are more and more necessary today to be able to answer quickly and with knowledge to the pressing demands that originate from clients, along with the ever-complex regulations.

Italian leather’s sustainability is a matter of fact then…

Yes, it is. Our industrial and technological maturity is so that we foresee to improve, our processes and products, faster and faster in the future, while trying to satisfy the ethical, social, environmental needs of our clients, just as fast. Not by chance, we decided to proudly award the tanneries that achieved the ICEC Sustainability Certificate.

Is it not enough?

Even while we make these efforts we are met with movements and ideologies that believe economic interests and environment can never coexist.

Communication, then, has become more than an urgency…

It’s an urgency that, sadly, is representative of the time we are living in. Here is the reasoning behind UNIC’s campaign, which was entrusted to the international agency Spring Studios. It starts with an invite: Don’t say greenwashing. And gets to promoting the idea that only “real leather is equal to real sustainability”. We must defeat the common misbeliefs and ignorance that are characterized by a rebuttal and diffidence culture which just doesn’t want to see the truth. We must decisively explain that Italian tanning represent an ‘unicum’.

Which one?

That of being a tradition, but most importantly, the future.



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