Is it possible to produce soles in Porto Recanati in a profitable way, in the Twenties of the Third Millennium, in the midst of globalization? Can you beat Asian competition with quality, innovation and sustainability? Can this be done without being a giant company? And can it be done, supported by new lines of credit acquired despite problems and bureaucracy associated with Covid?
Yes, it can be done. It's certainly not easy, but Attilio Mucelli, and the shareholders/entrepreneurs who hired him to pilot a strategic turn that is fundamental for their company, are succeeding.
The company was born in 1978 from an idea of some boys in their twenties. Those were golden years for the footwear industry and in particular for the industrial district of the Marche region. With the skills acquired in the field, a little courage, some money and a lot of determination, the company took off. Of the five founding partners, three are still part of the shareholding structure and two still carry out the entrepreneurial function in the Group. "The first company they founded was Mondial Suole, then others were added over time," says Attilio Mucelli, General Manager of Mondial Suole.
When the group was founded, the footwear market was not only thriving and expanding rapidly; Asian competition had not yet arrived. "Initially, the sole market where the Mondial group entered was made up of standardized, mostly inexpensive products intended for mass footwear production. Production peaks of 150 thousand pairs of soles per day were reached. Today, the scenario has completely changed – says Mucelli – the low-priced product is almost completely manufactured in South-East Asian countries. Even if we continue to preserve a part of the basic production, because in any case our production capacity, in relation to all plastic materials, has remained at very high levels. To these productions, however, we have added, for some time now, and we will produce more and more, high-value soles, both for technical complexity and for the quality of workmanship and materials, which are sold at much higher prices. High-value products are those requested by the great international luxury fashion houses, which need to find a production partner capable of industrializing and realizing on a large scale the creative intuitions of their designers, guaranteeing high standards of quality and sustainability. Let's not forget that in a sneaker, from a stylistic point of view, the sole plays a role of absolute importance in terms of recognizability and aesthetic canon. It becomes, in some ways, the main critical success factor of the shoe".
The importance of manual processing must increasingly be supported by appropriate technological innovations aimed at automating certain production flows. "In this context, - commented the general manager – the Mondial group is committed to making major investments in the digitalization of its business processes and innovation under the banner of sustainability. We are perfectly in line with the priorities dictated by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan."
The Mondial group has long taken up the challenge of the circular economy and the use of materials with low environmental impact, preferably the result of ‘reuse’.
“Thanks to constant attention to innovation in raw materials – says Mucelli – we have moved ahead of the market. Another example concerns the recycling of rubber scraps which, through a special vulcanization process, returns to its initial powdery state and can be used as raw material in the production process". In this historical moment of difficult and expensive supply of materials, sustainability and attention to circular economy are already giving great results. Process innovation is leading Mondial Suole to plan and carry out, in respect of the environment, investments aimed at minimizing both energy consumption and emissions into the atmosphere. Mondial Suole once again proves to be in line with global challenges.
At this point, let's take a step back and introduce illimity Bank into the story. "From the shareholders – Mucelli continues – I received a clear task: to make our financial sources consistent with the structure of the investments needed to support the development plan oriented towards sustainability and innovation. On the basis of this mandate, a discussion began with illimity, which carefully evaluated the plan and supported our new vision of the company in the medium-long term. Industrial analysis and flexible and structured approaches, typical of large operations, were adopted in our circumstance, despite being a medium-sized operation, highlighting a great sensitivity to the evaluation of the specific determinants of the business, on the part of the bank."
The new industrial plan 2020-2024 of Mondial Suole is focused on digital innovation, sustainability and ‘managerialization’. In perspective, the turnover will be composed of products that are very different from those of the past, characterized by advanced, eco-sustainable and innovative production contents, respectful of the environment and able to enhance the principles of circular economy.
And what does the future hold? "Certainly, the pandemic has hardly hit our sector, and more generally the fashion one. However, there is an important recovery, and we look at the future with enthusiasm and positivity. Next year will certainly be a year of great redemption, both in terms of recovery and the accomplishment of some of the projects we have in the pipeline."