What is the situation of the leather goods technology sector?
“Leather goods are dealing with a difficult situation. We, who are more tied to brands, are witnessing the reshoring of production from Asia to Europe and Italy and the reorganisation of the industrial production sector.On one side, there are brands that today clearly have to industrialise and automate operations, even those with low added value, to preserve the profit margin by giving up some manual steps.On the other side, small businesses cannot keep up with technological innovation. The large subcontractors of the big brands do not have available resources to invest in technology. The risk is that they disappear or are absorbed as they do not have the strength to industrialise and renew their processes. Reshoring is a great opportunity to be exploited right now: for example, Prada which previously produced in China is returning to Romania and Italy, Saint Laurent returned to Italy… brands are returning to Europe to control the value chain. Only US productions remain in Asia”.
You are in charge of the ASSOMAC communication…
“The current one is somewhat equivalent to Year Zero for the association. We start from the concept that leather will remain a valuable element of production, but we must take note of the advancement of new materials. The communication that we must implement is therefore linked to a clear message: we produce machinery and automation that ‘also’ work on leather. We are so competent and good at working with leather, that we can also provide excellent solutions for other sectors and materials.We then filed an application for a collective trademark, the first in the manufacturing sector to do so, in order to clearly enhance the added value of the technologies we offer. The EU registered trademark joins the Green Label, a certification promoted by Assomac and related to the environmental footprint and therefore to the sustainability of our machinery.Companies that recognise themselves in our values can apply to use our collective brand and thus present their offer to international markets, obtaining a competitive advantage.At last, we plan to renew the image of our website and in general of all our printed communication”.
What challenges you, as entrepreneurs, will have to overcome?
“The main challenge that we have been defending for many years and which is now pressing, is to understand that the real competition with our products is not represented by the Italian one or by that of the members, but lies outside the associative perimeter. A synergy must be implemented between the members and with the other sectors of the industry: together we must pursue the needs of all, create a network of companies to face international markets, show that we are a sector that can attract investors. We can no longer waste time: competition from countries such as France and Spain is advancing, and if we do not close ranks we risk losing Made in Italy’s added value.Another challenge is the one represented by the pandemic: we supply technologies to brands of the calibre of Prada, Ferragamo, Gucci… which, if moments of social interaction remain limited, do not intend to invest hundreds of euro to produce bags that they cannot show to their customers.Let’s hope that international travels will reopen soon: the sales increase in China during these times is the result of travel restrictions. Before the health emergency, Chinese customers shopped in stores around the world.The situation obviously shed upon our sector with a contraction in numbers. We are however starting to get some positive feedback from the EU markets, from France, Spain and Portugal. Nothing from Asia: in India our customers are slowly resuming work after a year without working, the same goes for Turkey. It is difficult to show our machines on an online screen: we must soon be able to meet live again. We have to go back to fairs to show how they work, what innovation contents they contain: we hope that the next Simac Tanning Tech will represent the time of the revival”.