Fashion Magazine, The SPIN OFF’s sister publication part of DFV Group, has recently held its "CEO Roundtable on Business Acumen” at Palazzo Parigi, in Milan.

The unique format of talks, speeches and round tables, taking place for the 13th year, has investigated about how to create lasting value in a multifaceted, unpredictable and very demanding marketplace. It also dedicated specific attention to relations between fashion and technology companies, with the aim to identify the right recipe to achieve and increase succession in these challenging days.

The SPIN OFF has highlighted some of the main topics, quotes and speeches that emerged through the dense afternoon’s series of roundtables and sessions moderated by Marc Sondermann, CEO and editor-in-chief, Fashion Magazine/The SPIN OFF.

The first round table entitled "Cultivating market fervor" saw on stage: Claudio Marenzi, president, Herno and Montura; Mario Filippi Coccetta, president, Fabiana Filippi; Irene Rossetto, country manager, Big Commerce; and Luca Cassina, president retail, Planet.

After the austerity caused by Covid-19, Made in Italy has made its voice strongly heard again. The whole world, with The US and China in the lead, increasingly appreciates the much-celebrated 3Fs (Food, Fashion, Furniture) and is showing great interest in Italian excellence, starting with fashion, a true flagship.


"Made in Italy has in front of it export, partnership and visibility opportunities of exceptional value. Italian companies, with their products, can be sure that all over the world the number of enthusiastic interlocutors is constantly growing,” was Sondermann’s opening message of great optimism.

The key indication coming from the protagonists of the opening talk, which involved prestigious brands such as Fabiana Filippi, Herno and Montura, as well as digital technology realities such as Planet, a specialist in innovative payment systems, and Big Commerce, a software platform for e-commerce, is the need for a real paradigm shift. "The product is no longer enough, to grow we need to enhance the company's distinctive features, having the courage to make them known to the outside world," said Claudio Marenzi, owner Herno and Montura.


"In the post-pandemic, we suddenly realized how relevant Made in Italy was globally: there is a desire and need for our 'know-how' and our lifestyle," said the entrepreneur, in his first official outing since he is no longer president of Pitti Immagine. 

"This is a huge competitive advantage, which makes us overcome the inefficiencies of bureaucracy. On the other hand, we are behind in the whole technology part, which is becoming more and more important,” he continued.

A delay that according to Marenzi is related to the culture of doing business in Italy, with the business leader traditionally having solid product or commercial know-how and not being prepared on the subject of innovation, but not giving up a decision-making role in this area as well. 

"Being at the center of every decision is not efficient," Marenzi strongly emphasized, sharing with the audience at the CEO Roundtable, the decision to have relinquished the position of CEO of Herno (of which he remains chairman), in order to devote himself operationally to the development of the Montura brand, acquired at the end of 2021. "Adopting an absolute leader model, it is difficult to bring important managers on board, especially in the field of innovation and technology,” he continued.

For Mario Filippi Coccetta, president and founder, Fabiana Filippi, riding the Made-in-Italy boom mainly means highlighting the enduring value of garments, and this has to do not only with product quality, but also with the experience, an aspect strongly affected by technological innovation. 

"The first change we have to face is that companies like ours must be recognized for a very high quality product that can last in a market that, on the other hand, keeps changing all the time. It is important to be open and flexible,” explained Concetta.

“Covid forced a review of distribution logics, then came the war in Ukraine, which interrupted the dialogue with Russia, but we followed Russian consumers to countries like Dubai, where they moved. Of course, the market is not easy, but the important thing is to have a high and honest positioning. Only then will there be no shortage of opportunities,” he added.


"The issue of attracting new talents within companies is fundamental to win in competitiveness. The best professionals, from all sectors and not just the tech area, will choose to work where the new trends are going and certainly not where technology is,” commented Irene Rossetto, country director of Big Commerce, an open SaaS platform for B2C and B2B brands.


Choosing the right partner in e-commerce is therefore now more than ever a decisive choice, capable of making a difference in a brand development strategy. "Agility and flexibility are the main characteristics of our reality," Rossetto continued.

“In highly challenging times, such as the one we are experiencing, it is unimaginable to know that many companies spend a large part of their IT budget just to keep the machine running. We are on the side of those who want to create value, which is why we enable our customers to invest in innovation in a more focused way,” added Rossetto.


On the same page is Luca Cassina, retail president, Planet, which provides integrated solutions for payments, including VAT refund services. "Although we offer complete solutions, our customers must be able to choose the individual solution. We should not get obsessed with the idea of selling a complete package. In this era, the right strategy to follow is that of the Lego brick: those who build a credible and sustainable business, bit by bit, win the challenge,” he said.

Choosing competent managers from outside one's family and modular systems are the assets Marenzi intends to bet on to make Herno and Montura grow, just like Filippi Coccetta, which has just entrusted the Fabiana Filippi brand to the leadership of a CEO, Aldo Gotti, a few months ago.

“The head of the company must do business, work on the product, visit markets: he must not be sucked in by technology, which must simplify operations,” continued Big Commerce's Rossetto.

“Five years ago to develop a competitive e-commerce project he would have had to set up a team, invest time and resources with no idea of the final result. Now, thanks to platforms like ours, an entrepreneur no longer has to take certain risks; all he has to do is open up and be up to speed. We do the rest, simplifying as much as possible,” she added.


Asking what aspects will enable Made-in-Italy companies to put on muscles and grow in turnovers in the coming years, Luca Cassina had no doubts. 

On the one hand, there will be "revenge tourism," with China leading the way. "Little by little they are coming back and with a much higher spending basket than average and in the past," he reassured. “But there is also the contribution of technology, which creates links between online and physical store, and multiplies payment options and creates excitement." Certainly, the time for budgets spent on simple IT upgrades has passed.

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