Optimism grows as economy recovers21 September 2022
Italian textile care sector ready for breakthrough despite skyrocketing energy prices and high level of inflation, writes Eugene Gerden
The Italian textile care sector is steadily developing despite the threat of a new wave of the pandemic in the country and the ever-increasing cost pressures on the industry caused by skyrocketing gas prices and high levels of inflation in the EU, according to representatives of some major industry players and independent analysts.
Italy, which is the third-largest economy in the Eurozone, was one of the countries in the EU hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-2021. That was mainly in terms of the number of deaths and economic consequences associated with the pandemic Luckily, in recent months economic recovery has progressed at a good rate, which has had a positive effect on most industries, including textile care.
One of the reasons for the generally fast recovery of the Italian economy from the crisis is the large volume of financial support provided to the country as part of EU’s EUR 800 billion NextGenerationEU recovery plan, where Italy’s share of the overall sum of allocated funds amounted to 25%. These funds enabled support to respond to consumer demand.
Traditionally, the Italian textile care market is dominated by both strong domestic players and multinationals. In the latter case, most global majors interviewed consider the Italian laundry and drycleaning market as one of the most promising for their further growth. Still, the Covid-19 pandemic and the negative consequences associated with the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, such as the ever growing energy prices, have forced revised forecasts of further development in the Italian market for at least the current year.
Vittorio Maglione, country manager Italy, Alliance Laundry Systems comments: “Our office in Italy is concentrated on hospitality/ nursing home and self-service laundry markets. After the Covid pandemic, commercial laundry and drycleaning are starting again albeit with a lot of chazllenges due to the increase in energy prices”.
According to Maglione, in Italy the perseverance of commercial laundry and drycleaning is very important, and, as, Maglione believes, “these markets will have to structure and organise to face new challenges”. However, he says, the company is ready to deal with the existing challenges in the Italian textile care market, that will be also thanks to its wide range of laundry machines, which features several innovative technologies and which, according to him, allow cost reductions and energy savings.
In the meantime, a similar ourtlook is shared by representatives of Kreussler Textile Care, another major foreign player in the Italian market of textile care. Thomas Zeck, commercial director at Kreussler in has confirmed the importance of the Italian market for the company, but says a number of problems continue to prevent a more active development of the company in the region.
“As we have similar challenges in the Italian market as in the other markets in Europe as well as worldwide – the commodity situation with extreme price increases in many important raw materials, the increasing shortage of available materials in general, the exploding prices in the areas of packaging, logistics and services as well as the very gloomy situation regarding energy prices and availability due to war in Ukraine – the most important part so far this year was to keep and secure the existing Italian market, which we managed very well.
Zeck, however, believes that the demand for textile care services in Italy will be growing, although the market will face consolidation as the current problems associated with the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the after effects of the pandemic, will lead to many – especially small companies – “not surviving these multiple crisis situations”.
Zeck continues: “The major challenge will be to provide the survivors, as well as the new companies, with our products quickly and reliably. Fortunately, as we have our own Italian staff as well as an excellent, nationwide network of sales partners, this should not be a problem.”
Most of industry’s players believe amid the current conditions the level of competition in the Italian textile care and laundry market will be tightening. It is expected that washing machines will be one of the few segments in the Italian textile care market that will face the strongest competition.
Particular hopes on their further development in the Italian market are put by representatives of the Kannegiesser, which has been traditionally considered the Italian market as one of the most promising for their growth in the EU.
Alessandro Rolli, CEO of Kannegiesser Italy says: “In a highly demanding global context we continue to grow delivering an outstanding performance and pursuing our strategy. Together with our employees’ resiliency, agility and service mindset we are shaping Kannegiesser Italy into a company that fits the ongoing market demand. Our mission is to offer sustainable solutions to our customers and we are committed to provide smart systems with the quickest return of investment. We achieved the highest volume of orders in our history and increased strongly our market share”. He adds that he expects this demand won’t stop.
He also advises that new challenges will force the company to constantly adjust its strategy for the development in the Italian market in order to better meet the needs of local customers. Rolli continues: “Labour shortages, energy crisis and new generations’ habits will certainly be a booster for further investments in automation, energy saving, robotics, artificial intelligence and data information technology. Kannegiesser Italy’s role is to be and active part of the transition, being aware that an old management strategy will never survive in such a challenging sector. Kannegiesser Italy is offering a high product value which is a perfect mixture of: up to date technology and service solution to reduce operating costs.
“We keep investing in human resources in different departments at our subsidiary to better perform on the years to come.”
Of course, big news this year is EXPODetergo returns to Milan in October, the first big European show since Covid started its rampage. Trailing the slogan ‘Reset. Restart together’ the event organisers intend to help the industry do just that. There are more than 200 companies in the international exhibition, to discover the innovation in the textile maintenance. More than 200 exhibitors will exhibit at EXPOdetergo International, the leading international event that will be held at Fiera Milano 21- 24 October.
The number of exhibitors is a clear indication of the desire to meet in order to show innovations for the textile maintenance sector: washing and ironing machines, automated lines, detergents, but also new software solutions that can improve efficiency and quality of work.
Sustainability, digitisation and sanitisation are the three key words around which the project is being built. The three “pillars” of an edition that is full of novelties.
“The exhibiting companies confirm the credibility of EXPODetergo International, recognised globally as an event not to be missed: next month the world will come here to see what’s new in the sector, because it is here that the market can do business and network,” says Paolo Pizzocaro, Fiera Milano, exhibition director of the event.
The event will provide a global view of the market and the innovations that companies and their research and development departments have been working on in recent years, he says. Attention will be paid to the environment and energy efficiency, quality of work thanks to increasingly ergonomic and digital machines, to monitor and make the entire line more efficient, but also ensuring hygiene of the process and the result: these are the main contributions that innovation can bring to the various contexts of application, from laundry - whether local or industrial - to the Horeca and hospital/heathcare sectors.
The Convention organised by EXPOdetergo International and Fiera Milano on 5 July 2022 was the “warm up” for the trade fair. Paolo Pizzocaro, the exhibition director of the event, illustrated together with Fiera Milano technicians, the functionality of its EXPOPLAZA platform, one of the innovations developed for exhibitors and visitors of EXPODetergo International. It is a 4.0 catalogue, active all over the year, where the exhibitors can upload representative information and their company description, their flagship products, the case studies representing it, videos and useful details for their customers.
EXPOPLAZA is also an interactive tool for a direct dialogue with the industry professionals. It includes gthe Exhibitor’s handbook: a true digital showcase, graphically customisable, with the possibility of uploading products, documents (brochures, data sheets, and so on.) It also disseminates stories, videos and social profiles, completing the story of each company and/or the innovations presented. Appointments and webinars organised by the exhibitor during the fair can be accessed easily and an open agenda: allows visifors and exhbigtors to set and manage a meeting’s agenda, in person at the trade fair, or directly online.
There is also a dynamic module that offers the exhibitors and the potential customers the possibility to get in direct contact, for an even more constant and extended relationship.
So, EXPODdetergo and Fiera Milana very much following the plan to ‘Reset. Restart together’.