Internationalization strategies followed by Italian companies are different, as it is also proved by recent acquisitions and partnerships. The common denominator is the recognized value of Made-in- Italy, expression of quality, design and culture
by Elena Corti
There is vitality among the companies of Made-in-Italy that bring abroad the ‘Italianess’ values, increasingly appreciated by consumers around the world. Current trends and internationalization strategies are different: from acquisitions by foreign groups to partnerships with foreign companies, to those who mainly focus on enhancing the skills available on the Italian territory to stand out in international markets. In any case, Made-in-Italy remains a distinctive mark, symbol of the lifestyle and culture of the Peninsula: let us see the latest news and the different strategies followed by companies.
The international relaunching of Nardi
Nardi writes a new chapter of his company history starting from the acquisition by Condor Electronics. The Algerian Group has chosen the Italian brand, operating for sixty years in the household appliances sector, to complete its internationalization strategy, aiming at relaunching a brand that for over half a century has been inspired by the values of the Italian Feeling Philosophy, as says Marco Nardi, general manager of Nardi Electronis Italia. «The fact that Nardi is an Italian company – Marco Nardi states – represents a plus for Condor for the values connected to Made-in-Italy, appreciated in many international markets.» Moreover, Nardi is active in more than 80 countries (including Italy, Russia, Middle East, Australia and Latin America) and has an important international distribution network that will open new horizons for Condor Electronics, allowing it to conquer new markets. Condor is the main company of the Benhamadi Group and is specialized in the production and marketing of electronic products with a turnover that in 2016 reached 850 million dollars. «The fact that we have the third Algerian industrial group behind us – Marco Nardi explains – will immediately provide Nardi with a significant availability in terms of investment capacity and this will result in the development of new solutions and new products, as well as a greater capacity of investment also on the communication side». The Italian company, in turn, makes available for Condor its expertise in the field of large domestic appliances, both in terms of design and as regards the commercial and marketing field thanks to multiple contacts and relationships with a consolidated network of suppliers.
But how is the relaunching of the Nardi brand actually being implemented? «At this initial stage – Marco Nardi affirms – we are focusing on some strategic areas for us: a dozen markets including the Italian one, but also Eastern Europe (including Russia), the Gulf countries, some areas of the Western Europe like England, the Iberian Peninsula and France, and the North African markets. We have defined a three-year plan, agreed with the Group, widening the original Nardi catalog thanks to the integration with the Condor product range. However we will maintain our specialization in the built-in.»
Candy: «this is why we have chosen Meiling»
It has passed about a year since the announcement of the strategic collaboration agreement between Candy Group and Hefei Meiling, a company listed on the Shenzen Stock Exchange and controlled by Sichuan Changhong Electric, an important Chinese group operating in the consumer electronics segment. The partnership includes three different agreements: one of a commercial kind and two more typically industrial. The first concerns the birth of Meiling Candy (China) Washing Machine Limited Company, a joint-venture between Candy and Meiling for the marketing of washing machines of the two brands on the Chinese market. The second agreement between the joint-venture Meiling Candy and Jinling (a Chinese factory owned by Candy Group) concerns the supply of front loading washing machines to the JV by Jinling. Candy Group purchased the Chinese plant in 2006 with the aim of supporting the production of FAT Top Loader washing machines (top loading models with vertical axis, mainly used in Asia and the Middle East) and to consolidate a global presence in the front loading washing machine. The latter, which are the main standard in Europe, are experiencing a rapid growth also in China: this is a market with a considerable potential for development, considering that, according to estimates, 33 million washing machines were sold in 2016 , of which 9.6 million were frontal loading models. «The three-year plan that we have defined since 2017 – explains Gianpiero Morbello, Head of Brand Strategy and Identity of Candy Group – aims to sell 4 million units in the considered 3 years and we are currently quite in line with these objectives. The joint-venture is working very well and we are happy of the first results.»
The third part of the cooperation agreement concerns the refrigeration segment: in detail, Meiling becomes a strategic partner of the Candy Group for the production of refrigerators and freezers.
«Meiling – Morbello explains – is very advanced in the Cooling, it has established factories, has an important presence on the Chinese market and an advanced research and development activity. Furthermore, it is also a producer of engines for refrigerators and therefore has significant assets. This agreement allows Candy Group to strengthen its position in the refrigeration segment, which represents a significant development area within the Group’s expansion strategy in the kitchen appliances market. We have chosen Meiling because it is a complementary partner for us: it is a very solid company in the Cooling area and has an important distribution presence in China. In turn, the Candy Group offers to Meiling extensive expertise in the washing machine sector, at a time when there are great opportunities for growth for these products.»
At the level of foreign markets, Candy Group has a significant presence in England, followed by France and Italy. «We are also achieving positive results in Russia and in the markets of Eastern Europe, such as Poland and the Czech Republic – Morbello affirms. The latter are relatively small markets, if taken individually, but on the whole they offer interesting prospects. Finally, another area in which we are trying to expand is Spain.»
Regarding the Candy brand in particular, one of the main drivers for the success of the brand abroad is its Italianess, intended as creativity and culture. «Italy is known in the world for its design and good cooking – Morbello comments -. And Italianess is one of the differentiating elements of Candy together with the ability to be smart, conceived as its skill in creating products that meet the specific needs of consumers: this is what we call Italian touch. In our stand at Eurocucina we will make breathe the Italian spirit to those who will enter the Candy area.»
Bertazzoni in partnership with El Araby
Thanks to the partnership with El Araby, an Egyptian manufacturer of home appliances since 1964, Bertazzoni aims to strengthen its presence at an international level by completing its range with entry level products. In detail, the partnership includes the El Araby’s commitment to support the construction and implementation of completely new plants and production lines in Egypt. Bertazzoni, in turn, will provide its technological know-how and design knowledge. «We are very satisfied that the agreement with our Egyptian partner has been successfully concluded – said Paolo Bertazzoni, CEO of Bertazzoni -: this is an important strategic operation that allows us to consolidate the company’s growth at global level and open up to new markets with conviction, thanks to the diversification of the offer». In conjunction to this operation, the Italian company, specialized in the production of cooking appliances, is going on following the investment plan to strengthen the presence of the brand in the high-end appliances sector. «We are focused more than ever on the strengthening of Bertazzoni appliances addressed to the high-end market, which continue and will continue to represent the focus of our business – Paolo Bertazzoni added -. At the same time we will support, thanks to this partnership, the business development with a long-term plan that will allow us to compete also in the low-end market.»
The products deriving from the new partnership will be marketed under the La Germania brand starting from the first months of 2020 and will be mainly addressed to the Middle Eastern markets. In addition, the quality of the appliance will be guaranteed by the fact that 50% of the components will be of Italian production.
The Zepa experience within the Teka Group
Since 2014, Zepa, a company based in Veneto, is part of the Teka Group, a multinational organization and therefore present globally. The know-how and the high skills of Zepa have meant that the Italian company became the centre of competence for the development of the Group’s gas hobs. «This means – explains Luciano Antonini, managing director of Zepa – that, in addition to production activities, at our headquarters we also manage the design of new products. In practice, we coordinate from Italy the design of gas appliances, which can then be manufactured also in the Group’s operational offices in Turkey and Mexico, according to a Lean logic aimed to design platform products that meet the requirements of the various markets in which the Group is present.» A particular competence is recognized to Zepa not only within the company but also linked to the network of partners with which the company collaborates. «We are able to manage the innovation of products, materials and processes – Antonini continues -. Surely the geographical area in which Zepa operates (the north-east of Italy) is crucial to be able to rely on a network of skills, because it is among the most advanced in Europe in terms of technology. Consider, for example, the presence of important centres such as the Pordenone Technology Centre or the Padua MaTech, which is specialized in the research on materials. In addition, we can rely on partners who support us from the human resources training point of view and on companies that support us in the development of particular projects or parts of projects such as the prototyping of aesthetic parts.» If, on the one hand, the background of knowledge of Zepa represents an added value for Teka Group, on the other belonging to an international group is a relevant factor for the Italian company. « Being part of a solid reality like Teka with over 90 years of history – Antonini explains – helps us to establish trust-based medium-long term collaborations with our customers. We are able to create lasting relationships because our customers recognize the solidity of the company organization, the technological skills and the ability to create better and better products. The principle that is on the basis of our way of operating as a Group is that of Leading Transformation, that is to be leaders in the transformation and not simple followers.»
|Made-in-Italy that connects mind, heart and arms
In the history of Fulgor Milano, a red thread unites Italy and Japan, two geographically distant countries but not without affinity, as demonstrated by the experience of Gianni Meneghetti, general manager of Fulgor Milano. «I have always had a particular interest in Japanese culture since I was a child and I began to cultivate my passion for Karate - Meneghetti tells -. My love for Japan has always remained with me and led me to take important decisions for the company history of Fulgor Milano. In 2003 I realized that the company was at a turning point: we were growing and, for this reason, it was time to change to find more suitable solutions to the growth we were experiencing. So I decided to go to Japan because I had heard about the so-called "lean production", which is the business development method that Toyota was adopting successfully. I made a first trip to Japan that lasted about ten days, then I came back a second time and stayed three months working in Lexus, Toyota's premium brand. I wanted to understand the essence of this new method and understand if it was possible to transfer it to a context like the Italian one. I left thinking that the Toyota method was based primarily on the use of extremely advanced machinery, but I was surprised to see that the focus of this system was to base the company development on the people growth. So I decided to make this philosophy my own, putting the human resource at the centre of the company's activity. A resource that no longer gave only "arms", but that could enhance all its potential: ideas (the mind), passion (the heart) and consequently also practical skills (the arms).»
Meneghetti also stresses that, in order to really enhance the human resources value, considering them as an opportunity and not just a cost, it is essential to make them grow with continuous training. «This is essential - the manager explains - if a company wants to stay in Italy to produce with the mission of bringing abroad the richness of Made-in-Italy: we aim to realize strong international products, but that express all the beauty and the uniqueness of Italian culture.»