Maria Vittoria Brustia, president of Assomac: “We are ready to restart and face the challenge of the green & digital transition”. Speakers at the event: Mariastella Gelmini, Minister for Regional Affairs and Autonomies, Alessandro Spada, president of Assolombarda, and Renzo Rosso, president of OTB Group.

The Annual Assembly of ASSOMAC, National Association of Manufacturers of Footwear, Leather Goods and Tanning Technologies, was held on 5 November at Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan. The event, a discussion opportunity between companies and institutions to trace future scenarios of the footwear, leather goods and tanning economy, paid particular attention to the main challenge that the sector is facing: the sustainable and digital transition of production processes. The Assembly represented an opportunity to meet and discuss the priorities and measures aimed at supporting the development of the sector, promoting a high-level dialogue relating to the sector.

Maria Vittoria Brustia

During the opening greetings Maria Vittoria Brustia, president of Assomac, declared: “Change and Sharing are guiding concepts for the future. For this reason, at my first Assembly as president, with the fashion supply chain we discussed on the transition that we must implement and which is based on two central points: digital and sustainability, on which to focus in order to restart. Because global challenges require shared, but above all concrete and timely responses.

The atmosphere is obviously different now and we hope that this will make our sector grow again, but it is certain that we cannot stand still and wait. We really must focus on digital, capable of changing business models, on the green economy that is changing our society, on an increasingly effective communication in telling what we do, keeping people at the centre and promoting their training”.

The same topics covered by President Brustia were also at the centre of the speech by Alessandro Spada, president of Assolombarda: “This is a unique opportunity not just to innovate our companies, but also the whole country. It is thanks to the strength and adaptability of our companies to the great global challenges (including the difficulty in finding raw materials, energy prices and export problems related to logistics) that we have remained in the game and, today, the data are telling us that growth estimates are better than expected: a rebound by 6.4% is expected for Lombardy. We are about to face a double challenge: the green transition and the digital transition of production processes. They both share the skill issue which is deeply felt by our companies, without which we would not be able to fully grasp the opportunities related to digitisation and sustainability. In this direction, the 2022 Budget Law extends the tax credit for capital goods until 2025: a good sign for our companies that over the years can thus plan investments in innovation and digitalisation with stability. Provided that the impact of the measure remains significant. Moreover, it is necessary to restore the Patent box as a regime that rewards revenues related to intangible assets; the recent tax decree has completely distorted it, instead, transforming it into a measure based on a super-deduction of research and development costs”. On the Green transition, Spada highlights a crucial issue: “It is a challenge that must not just be taken on by Europe, but by all international countries, otherwise there is a risk that it will restrain only our economy. A transition that requires many investments that cannot just be borne by companies”.

Renzo Rosso, president of OTB Group and delegate of Confindustria for Excellence, Beauty and Taste of Italian Brands, said: “Most of the production of the luxury world takes place in Italy and 70% of the turnover of luxury companies comes from accessories: bags, shoes, leather goods. Only these data would be enough to demonstrate the importance of this Assembly. It is essential that the fashion sector teams up to enhance Made in Italy and our supply chain, focusing on innovation and sustainability, and defending it from the aggression of large foreign groups. This is what I am also trying to do through my role as Confindustria delegate: promoting Italian beauty and excellence. I believe that with everything we have at our disposal we will be able to be one of the most important countries for tomorrow’s world”. Rosso also points out a fact that is central to sustainability: “The traceability theme of the entire value chain is increasingly crucial in order not to fall into the extremely dangerous greenwashing risk. The goal is to equip each product with a tag that refers to its production history and that tells of its attention to the environment and to society”.

Mariastella Gelmini, Minister for Regional affairs and Autonomies was among the guests: “I have been following the themes of textiles and fashion for some time, I have done so even in the midst of the pandemic and I, of course, continue to do so even now. In the coming months, for a real restart, the maneuver already approved by the Council of Ministers and which will now begin its parliamentary process will be fundamental: it will be an expansive budget law, which will cut taxes to accompany growth and put companies at the centre again, after a political phase more concentrated on welfare. At the same time, we will have to implement the National Recovery and Resilience Plan within the established timeframe, to make the most of an unmissable opportunity for development, also thanks to reforms that can no longer be postponed and that our country has been waiting for too long. In launching certain measures, it will be essential to involve the categories and productive associations, which from their privileged observatory have the task of providing useful indications to implement the tools that companies need for their growth. The conditions exist to believe in a lasting and not impromptu recovery, and our goal is to encourage structural changes and not just facilitate an economic rebound that takes us back to pre-crisis levels”.

From the Round Table – involving Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè (professor at SDA Bocconi), Ercole Botto Poala (Vice president of Confindustria Moda), Elenia Duce (Head of Innovation, Sustainability&Innovation of RINA), Stefano Gelsomini (COO of Conceria Pasubio), Cristian Locatelli (Vice president of ACIMIT) and Gianmarco Senna, President of the Lombardy Region Productive Activities Commission – we just picked out some cues.

“The green and digital challenge is not urgent because Greta says so – declares Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè – but because it is the market that now demands a sustainable turnaround. A turning point that must be pursued by implementing digital tools in the production chain so as to be able to trace the life of a product from the very beginning and then be able to set the standards of what can be defined as a sustainable product. Being able to define standards, without letting China do it, for example, and being able to demonstrate that it respects them, is the only way to govern the market”.

Also Ercole Botto Poala comments on the subject: “The current problem is that the sustainability game is being played without a referee, without anyone knowing exactly what being sustainable means and entails. Today I could take hundreds of certifications without being sure I am on the right path”.

There are many themes and reflections on the table of the Assomac 2021 Assembly, challenges to which the incitement of President Brustia responds well: “During these difficult times we never stopped and continued to reinvent ourselves. As engineer, I believe that today we cannot simply speak of resilience as a return to the original state: change is taking place and it is irreversible and we entrepreneurs must choose to change and share our resources and skills”.