Survey analyses cleaning products distribution in Italy

6th of December 2013
Survey analyses cleaning products distribution in Italy

Italian reporter Anna Garbagna brings news of a survey into the distribution of cleaning products.

The third edition of the survey by AfidampCOM, analysing the Italian market for the distribution of machines, products and equipment for professional cleaning has been carried out.

The survey highlighted some dynamics driven by the economic situation Italy is experiencing. The majority of companies (52 per cent) are small enterprises with sales volume of less than one million euros;  on the other hand, the number of companies with sales volume between 0.5 and one million euros is increasing, to the detriment of companies included in the next band up, ie. between one and 1.5 million euros. There was also an increase of three per cent in the number of companies with fewer than five employees.

Unfortunately, sales volumes are decreasing: 5.6 per cent of people who replied to the survey declared a decrease of 20 per cent of sales volume for 2011/2012 even if professionals in the sector continue to show a cautious optimism. Among the critical factors which led these companies to suffer can be identified: payment management, reduction of margins and direct competition from manufacturers. Payment delays lead to a sharp reduction in cash flow.

Training is certainly one the strategies being pinpointed in order to respond to the crisis: 66 per cent of people being interviewed declared to have attended training courses in 2012 (while in 2010 the percentage was 58 per cent and in 2011 63 per cent, confirming a growing trend). In small companies courses are mainly of technical/operative nature while in large companies security is preferred; companies with between 11 and 20 employees are those which are more active as far as training is concerned and their focus is on courses of a commercial nature.

The customer portfolio is essentially unchanged: 54 per cent of people interviewed declare having a portfolio exceeding 300 customers. The field of action, on the other hand, is widening: in 2012 sales were distributed over a large number of regions while in 2011 the areas of action were the provinces in the near vicinity of the companies. All companies have the use of a logistics centre of about 1,000 square metres and 63 per cent are family run.

Among the services commonly offered to customers and services worth continuing to invest in are pre- and post-sale assistance and maintenance, while the sale of used goods and the practice of renting both increased (used by 49 per cent of companies in 2011 compared to 58 per cent in 2012, to demonstrate a tendency towards a more functional and less expensive option). Sales made by employees compared to those made by agents are also increasing.

This year’s survey highlighted the dynamics outlined at the end of 2011 and that, given the market situation, continue to consolidate. “We believe specialisation and customer service are two very important levers to focus on in order to face recession which affects us deeply,” Francesco Bertini, president of AfidampCOM declared.

“The association will pursue its task to improve contact among distributors in order to value small and micro companies as well as large groups by means of dedicated services and constant training on specific topics.”


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