Last September Gianfranco Marinelli was elected President of Assufficio (Italian Association of office furniture producer companies).
Graduated from Università Bocconi, Marinelli has an extensive knowledge of the office industry, since he has been general manager of Unifor (Molteni Group) for many years.
On his election, he quoted “The task and responsibility of the Association is to give new boost and lymph to the office furniture sector”.
In this interview the 7th president of Assufficio made his position known and explained the strategies of the association.
As chairman of Assufficio, what powers and resources will you have?
First of all, it’s essential to the association and its sustainability to expand the number of its members.
Moreover, the importance of Salone Ufficio 2019 means we need to play our part as association.
We also need to boost internalization and recover that small marginality we lost.
I intend to propose a sort of ethical catalogue for companies to ask the recoupment of some logistics costs of customers, for they can no longer be integrated in the offer prices.
Also required, the updating of the standard supply contract, so that the supplier has an advantage. And I’d like to press for more open–mindedness, we should invite experts to our meetings.
A challenge that we should face together is finding forms of partnership and business collaboration, to get out of that dwarfism situation the manufacturers of office furniture are in, to “work in an integrated way” through practical measures.
For instance, for Orgatec 2020, Italian firms should unite and display the Made in Italy”, the value of Italian manufacturing as a common heritage.
What about the Italian and European market? And its problems?
The office industry has been under pressure for years; since 2007 all companies – working both on the domestic market and abroad – have suffered considerable trade deficits and a squeeze on operating margins.
No doubt, the office is no longer made of desks only.
Elsewhere in Europe the situation doesn’t differ greatly, as proved by the most recent meeting of FEMB.
With the exception of the Polish, Hungarian and Czech Republic representatives, who spoke in positive terms, everyone else underlined the difficulties due to the price squeeze and fragmentation of demand, obliging the firm to be craft business instead of enterprise. The marked demands customized products, yet at the same price of a serial product, made in thousands of pieces.
What is the impact of public procurement in terms of turnover and how many companies are involved in Italy?
The Public Administration is the chief purchaser in Italy; CONSIP issues invitations to tender on a two-year cycle, that amount to a Eur 40 or 50 million.
However, so far just a few firms have taken parte in the tender, because the quality of the product and the suggested fee were so low that most of businesses were not interested.
Yet, things are changing; thanks to the efforts of the Technical Commission of the Association, already in close contact with Consip for years, the quality grade has increased, hence prices, too.
The next Salone Ufficio 2019 is drawing near… a little preview?
We have been working on this theme for a few months and we have identified some thematic trends based on concepts of technologies and anthropologic approach to workplace and we are discussing with the structures of Salone del Mobile to find the “coordinator”, who can bring these concepts into reality.
Interview by Renata Sias