Encouraging signs from Italian survey

15th of December 2016
Encouraging signs from Italian survey

Anna Garbagna reports from Italy on the latest survey by the AfidampCOM association, covering the cleaning products distribution market.

AfidampCOM’s survey on the distribution market for the professional cleaning in Italy in 2015 was conducted from March until June this year.

The survey shows a reasonably positive picture with growing total sales for almost 63 per cent of companies. Generally it is the small companies which have grown and in fact, two trends are apparent: increased growth for companies with total sales below €1.5 million from 48 per cent to 57 per cent) and a decrease for companies with more than 20 employees.

Some key figures are the same for previous years such as the management of companies  (57 per cent remain family run) and the concentration of operators in the regions of Northern Italy (mainly Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont). In addition, there is the strong  trend where companies, regardless of their current generational level they are in, believe that the business will be passed on to their children.

In line with previous years, there is no noticeable concentration of sales on a specific type of products or services (identifiable in machines, chemical products and consumables, tools, offer of other services and rental); the same is true for direct contact (thanks to which a long lasting relationship and personal loyalty is created) which remains the main sales channel in spite a strong increase in Internet sales.

There is only mild growth of sales via e-commerce for companies with total sales higher than €0.5 million: in fact, in 2014, the average growth of these companies, which used e-commerce as a sales channel, was 8.75 per cent, while in  2015 was 11 per cent. Internet however, is very often used
as a channel for promoting the business.

The positive sales growth between 2014 and 2015 has improved further: in fact 62.7 per cent of operators recorded a positive variation in total sales for 2015.? The growth is significant for every type of company, but particularly for companies with total sales between €0.5 and €1 million, of whom 68 per cent recorded a positive increase, and 71 per cent of companies with total sales higher than  2.5 million showed an encouraging trend.

Those which recorded a less significant growth are middle sized companies with total sales oscillating  between €1 and €2.5 million.

The operators that were interviewed also highlighted some key functions for the sector’s growth such as marketing, sales and after-sales care. Among the strong points, the relationship with customers and specialisation are still the most relevant, while the weak points are the handling of payments and the reduction in margins.

Training still has a relevant role: in line with the previous year, the results show special attention to technical and business training especially in relation to the smaller companies. In fact, 54 per cent of courses being offered  to companies with fewer than five employees are of a technical nature.
The future remains full of expectations: it is no coincidence that operators continue to be optimistic and are assuming a positive change for total sales in  2015/2016.


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