Ductalk: What's Up In The World Of Ducati
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February 6, 2012 5:03 AM

Italy’s manufacturers find ‘small is good’ no more | FT.com

Italy’s manufacturers find ‘small is good’ no more | FT.com | Ductalk: What's Up In The World Of Ducati | Scoop.it

“Motor Valley”, an 80km-long corridor of rich industrial land in central Italy, is a petrol head’s utopia.

The strip that runs south from Reggio Emilia to Bologna is home to the world’s best-known motoring names: Ferrari and Ducati, Maserati and Lamborghini. Around these hundreds of smaller businesses have grown rich too supplying niche automotive parts, from brake lights to leather seating trim. 

But the sovereign debt crisis roiling Italy’s financial markets is taking its toll in the country’s second largest manufacturing region in terms of per capita production. While the largest businesses are surviving, for many of the smaller ones it is a daily struggle.
“The smarter and more innovative will survive, but we cannot ignore that some of these suppliers are suffering and will not make it,” says Gabriele del Torchio, chairman and chief executive of Ducati.

 Ducati, like all the successful brands in Emilia Romagna, is an exporter. Eight out of 10 of its bikes are sold outside of Italy. Its largest market is the US, where sales grew 42 per cent last compared with 2010. To cater to expanding business in Asia, last year it opened its first factory outside Italy in Thailand.

Mr Del Torchio believes Ducati’s focus on innovation and its position as a premium brand, two aspects that successful Italian manufacturers have developed to beat off competition from China and India, gives him confidence that in 2012 he will be able to sell more bikes than he did last year. Even though January tends to be a slow month, he says his orders portfolio is “promising”.
Without its international exposure though, the outlook would be dire. Sales of motorcycles fell 23 per cent in Italy in January compared with a year ago.
Gaetano Maccaferri, head of the employers’ association in Emilia Romagna and of the conglomerate Maccaferri, says at a time of domestic stagnation when the International Monetary Fund is predicting two years of deep recession in Italy “it is evident that the health and growth prospects of the region are linked to exports and internationalisation”.
As in the case of Ducati, Mr Maccaferri says in terms of his own business, which has €1bn in revenues and interests in sugar and tobacco, energy, real estate and construction to mechanical engineering, the general outlook is positive. “Old Europe”, as he calls it, has come to a standstill, but Maccaferri’s operations beyond Europe are compensating....more on link

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