Looking back on a difficult year - Italy's cleaning sector

15th of April 2021
Looking back on a difficult year - Italy's cleaning sector

The latest figures for product sales in Italy have been published. Anna Garbagna tells us more.

The annual Professional Cleaning Sector Survey (July-November), carried out by Afidamp with Cerved ON, which puts the emphasis on market, sales and  prospects for the manufacturing sector, was for the first time supported by a survey which identifies points of strength and weakness, sales channels and levers of growth. Companies were asked to give an estimate of 2020 performance in a sector which found itself in the spotlight due to heightened interest in hygiene and sanitisation. But the data highlights difficult times for many companies.

Back in 2019, the market sector of Italian manufacturing companies was worth about €3.5 billion, divided between chemicals, machines, papers, equipment, fibres, cloths and other products. Of that, Afidamp members represented a value of €1.8 billion and 2019 showed an overall growth of two per cent, with very high export quota.

Last year the sector became a point of reference for all those who had to pay more attention to hygiene: from health to schools, from Horeca to retail. Manufacturers’ access to the market is mainly through retailers and distributors who unfortunately were either closed or  working intermittently in 2020.

In 2019 many companies experienced a growth in sales thanks also to export: in 2020 the trend was very different.

The machine sector, in the first six months of  2020 (with forecast for the second half of the year), recorded a consistent decrease for 49 per cent of the those sampled with an estimated sales decrease of 22 per cent on average. This is mainly caused by the halt of production and the difficulties for exports.

There are also some positive statements (from 20 per cent of those sampled) of unchanged growth (28 per cent), due to the type of products being sold or the market supplied.

The chemical products sector is fluctuating: the exceptional sales of disinfectants, including those for personal use, had a total sales increase of 200 per cent compared to 2019. However, this figure was drastically reduced by the loss in sales of other products which were not used due to the closure of offices, schools, gyms, hotels and restaurants. The crash of general-purpose cleaners and products for maintenance was close to -30/40 per cent. While 52 per cent of companies interviewed forecast growth (with an average increase of 28 per cent), another 20 per cent of them forecast a decrease of around 19 per cent.

The overall assessment for 2020 is still negative, with over 30 per cent of companies surveyed reporting operating issues due to the many closures, restrictions in travelling and difficulty in obtaining materials, orders on and off, and the almost total lack of important markets because of lockdown.

This shows the importance of company websites as the main communication channel for 76 per cent, followed by sales force 62 per cent, exhibitions and events 59 per cent. The prevalent sales channel is that of company employees for 72 per cent, an interesting figure for e-commerce (direct or via other  marketplaces), considered important by 26 per cent and post-sales assistance 34 per cent and pre-sales assistance 28 per cent.

The number or patents pending in the last five years is high: 26 per cent of them from the machines and equipment sector.


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