In a moment in which it is hard to make long-term forecasts, given the completely unexpected economic and social scenario Italy and abroad caused by the pandemic, it seems important to proceed in phases. The first and most urgent phase is the reopening, also to combat European competition. The companies in the kitchen and bath sector, from which we have gathered comments, are ready to reopen, reconciling operations and safety.
Though in reality they have never completely closed, thanks to smart working and skeleton staffing, using this moment of reduced activity to rethink and test various digital tools and new corporate processes.
The companies in the kitchen and bath sector with which we are in contact fully support the contents of the Design Manifesto.
As confirmed by Fabiana Scavolini, CEO of Scavolini, who says, “The Design Manifesto has the value of having laid out a common line for the companies in the furnishings sector. While on the one hand it is necessary to enact all the measures to limit the spread of the virus, it is also true that we have to pay close attention to what is shaping up to be a grave economic emergency. We will be ready to reopen our activities in compliance with the protocol of safety of workers issued by the Ministry of Health, stipulating rules of distancing and hygiene.”
Fabiana Scavolini, CEO of Scavolini
Erika Rastelli, Corporate Manager of Aran
The objective is to maintain market share, both at home and abroad, as a vital priority for the companies of Made in Italy. Erika Rastelli, Corporate Manager of Aran, emphasizes that, “further postponement could be very destructive, also if we consider the fact that we have German competitors that have continued working, especially abroad in the contract sector, and our ‘absence’ can call into question many important projects.”
With respect to the objective of protection of health and safety of employees, already one month ago, near the time of the lockdown, many production facilities and office spaces were sanitized, also to permit the continuation of permitted activities, reduced to an essential minimum, in order to fill already placed orders.
Emanuel Colombini, President of Gruppo Colombini, which controls the brands ColombiniCasa, FebalCasa and Rossana, explains that “at this point, we have activated all the required measures for a month now, also in keeping with the regulations in effect in the Republic of San Marino. We have already tested the methods for production at a level of 50% staff for small orders, and we are therefore ready to open on 20 April, also because a number of markets are now reactivating.”
In spite of the many unknowns and the impossibility of making forecasts and strategies for the long term, the lockdown period has in any case been an opportunity to revise and reinforce operative tools and corporate processes, as well as to move on with development of new products and systems, while improving customer service procedures. “As a company,” Emanuel Colombini continues, “we are using smart working to continue activities of customer service and dealer relations, while tackling some strategic projects in terms of products and communication, including the online decor consulting offered by Febal Casa.”
Emanuel Colombini, President of Gruppo Colombini
Emanuele Benedini, CEO of Agape
Fabiana Scavolini, on the other hand, says “we have revised deliveries due to the problems of the situation, temporarily closing our production zone – as per government orders – but the offices mainly engaged in relations with foreign players and the technical-design divisions have continued operation, working on the launch of new products.”
Many also believe that the reopening of showrooms is feasible, as places devoted to sales to the public, but with specific measures to avoid gatherings and conserve social distancing, since the stores are generally quite large. Emanuele Benedini, CEO and owner of Agape, says the company – as part of the chain of thermo-sanitary products – has taken advantage of the possibility of ongoing activities to permit deliveries to points of sale. “From the standpoint of production at the moment we are going through a phase of relatively limited slowdown, but the development of new products continues as planned, in collaboration with our designers. Their official presentation has shifted to September; this is not the ideal moment, at present, and their visibility would be weakened from the outset. Promotion continues thanks to various digital tools and platforms, a new website and a configuration system. For us, Cersaie will be a chance to present new projects, though I am not always convinced of the need to present new things, given the fact that we have long-term bestsellers that need to be enhanced and optimized as a legacy of products.”
With an eye on the easing of restrictive lockdown rules during Phase 2, “the hot topic,” according to Andrea Lupi, CEO and art director di antoniolupi, “is how the restart will be carried out, because it will probably not be total and immediate, but gradual, in segments. We will have to reorganize and adapt our marketing and communication strategies on the basis of the countries to which we export.
Andrea Lupi, CEO and Art Director
Our way of working will change, because since we cannot move, to go to our clients, to meet them in person at fairs or events, we will have to modify our projects and our products. We will definitely try to compensate with many digital platforms, but the human relationship is something different, so we hope there will soon be a return to world where we can shake hands.”
Carlo Geromin, CEO of Gruppo Geromin
The short-term topic is obviously connected to the presentation and promotion of the 2020 collections, in the lack of an important appointment like the Salone del Mobile, and in conditions of physical distancing. For Gruppo Geromin, with the brands Hafro, Geromin and Saunavita, the goal will be to move forward with what was planned for Salone 2020 through other channels. Carlo Geromin, CEO, is convinced that it will be necessary to “reinforce the concept of Total Living Bathroom and Wellnessby investing more in social network and web communication activities, to reach consumers who today are increasingly well-informed and aware of questions of wellness. At the same time, we want to put in place new systems of communication with the sales force and dealers, because this particular situation has demonstrated that the flow of communication can be streamlined and accelerated to be more efficient: price lists, catalogues and presentations of new products will be increasingly digital.”