Fashion, Botto Poala (Confindustria Moda): “Supply chain is suffering but turnover is increasing ”

On the one hand, a supply chain that suffers from increases in energy and raw materials. On the other hand, orders and turnover in strong increase “because the world wants Made in Italy”. The Italian Textile, Fashion and Accessory (TMA) sector is a two-sided sector, which despite the crisis linked to the pandemic and that of energy and raw materials still remains one of the growth engines of the Italian system.

“Today it is easy to notice two opposing trends – explains to Adnkronos Ercole Botto Poala, president of Confindustria Moda, the federation that brings together companies and associations in the Textile, Fashion and Accessory sector -. The first is that the supply chain is suffering due to the dramatic increases in the prices of raw materials and energy during the year, which have undermined the post-Covid recovery we were seeing “.

The increase in these costs, notes Botto Poala, “has drastically reduced the margins of our companies, not only making it more and more complex for companies to make the investments necessary to be globally competitive, but sometimes making even economically disadvantageous to maintain production “.

The second, “positive” evidence is that “we continue to see that the world wants Made in Italy”. The orders and the turnover of the industry “are strongly increasing compared to 2021, a sign that Textiles, Fashion and Accessories can be one of the engines of the growth of the country system in the coming years”. In this regard, “it is essential to maintain a constructive dialogue with the institutions, in order to create the favorable context for the recovery and growth of our businesses that can lead to economic, cultural and social development of the whole country”.

It is premature to take stock of 2022 “because the context is extremely fluid and rapidly evolving” but the first quarter of the year ended beyond expectations. “In terms of turnover, there was an average increase in all sectors of 18.2% compared to the same period of 2021 – says Botto Poala – driven in particular by the performances recorded in foreign markets. As I pointed out, however, this figure shows only one side of the coin ”.

If on the one hand exports and turnover increase, observes the president of Confindustria Moda, “on the other hand, companies see profits decrease due to the increase in costs”. It is therefore “essential to see this double aspect – he highlights – because it highlights the great potential that Textiles, Fashion and Accessories have for the Italian economy, but how this is stifled by external factors, independent of companies. For this reason, supporting the sector in overcoming this critical phase could lead to a collective growth of the system “.

The sector has passed the period of the pandemic but “a comparison with the pre-Covid risk does not highlight the big problem that I have highlighted – warns Botto Poala – that is, that limiting oneself to looking and comparing turnover is, today more than ever, not sufficient”. Today the costs of energy and raw materials are certainly the aspects “that have the greatest impact” on the Tma sector, argues the number one of Confindustria Moda, “but this is associated with a series of challenges aimed at countering historical and structural problems characteristic of our sector”. To sum up, “problems such as the ability to invest in innovation, sustainability and internationalization are linked to the small size of the SMEs that make up our industrial fabric”.

In this regard, Botto Poala points out, “it is essential that funds and concessions put in place at national and European level are made accessible for small and medium-sized enterprises, which are those that most need them to be able to access investments and technologies that would otherwise be out of reach. “.

As far as exports are concerned, “despite the geopolitical crisis having had a not insignificant impact on some of our districts – explains Botto Poala – the trend I highlighted earlier is confirmed: the world is looking for Made in Italy”. Exports continue to record “important growth rates and there are fundamental markets for us, such as the United States, where demand has been strengthening”. This trend, “confirms the Textile, Fashion and Accessory sector as a standard bearer of Made in Italy in the world, able to increase the positive perception of the country and all its excellences, helping to create charm and wealth”.

The sector, there is no doubt, remains one of the main contributors to the Italian trade balance. “After our turnover is 100, about 70 comes from exports – assures Botto Poala -. The balance between imports and exports in our sector is clearly positive, so much so that we are confirmed in first place among the contributors to the Italian trade balance. But we still have ample room for growth and it is in fact essential to activate initiatives that favor the internationalization of companies, supporting the participation of our companies in international fairs and facilitating the participation of international buyers in our fairs “.

A month ago Confindustria Moda addressed six ‘urgencies’ to the new government, from combating expensive energy to integrating employee salaries, up to the topic of tax credit for samples and collections and the training chapter. “Confindustria Moda always places itself in an open and constructive dialogue with the institutions – underlines Botto Poala – trying to highlight needs and bring useful reflections to collective growth. The comparison with the current executive has started and we hope it will give useful results for all the realities at stake. What we hope is that this government can have a prolonged continuity over time, so that it can have the planning necessary to deal with the challenges of our time ”.

One of the main challenges for the fashion industry is training. A few days ago the federation announced up to 94 thousand recruitments by 2026. “Training is one of the great urgencies we have to face – explains Botto Poala -. The amount of professionals that we will need in a few years requires strengthening actions to counter the mismatch between the demand of the world of work and the training system “.

The Fashion Talent Days promoted by Confindustria Moda that have just ended “are one of the examples of the initiatives that we, like Confindustria Moda, are implementing in this sense, followed by intense work alongside the institutions and technical institutes”. The challenge in this field, concludes Botto Poala, “is to create a constant dialogue between the business world and schools, so that young people are given concrete opportunities and thus fight both youth unemployment and the phenomena of school dropout”. (by Federica Mochi)