Today was a short but information-filled day. We had only one company visit and then were set off on our own to appreciate our last day in Verona. Our company visit for today was Verona Vale, a fashion guild in Verona composed of around 400 companies. These companies include anything from the production of textile or cloth to designing and mass producing finished products. It was a visit full of interesting information and an insight into how Italian business differs from the U.S. Personally, I prefer the Italian business model because the businesses are all competitors yet work together to unite Italy to survive in the global market.
Verona Vale’s business model is really unique. Their mission is to sell and promote all products within the fashion guild they’ve built and also promote Italian products as a whole. Although it’s network mostly focuses on Verona specifically.
There are 21 regions (states as we say) in Italy. Verona is just one of them and one of the most important. They invoice almost 20% of all fashion dollars that come into Italy and hold more than 10% of all clothing manufacturers. To break it down even further, there are 9,500 small businesses in the clothing sector which range from textiles production to finished clothing products and there are 100,000 people work in the sector. In speaking of how big the companies are, on average each company has around 10 employees. All of this goes to show how important Verona is to the Italian fashion market and how small the companies within the guild are.
Verona Vale works because everyone cooperates under the structure provided by the guild. Because of this, the companies are able to compete on an international level. They are “stronger together” as the president of Verona Vale said today. Verona Vale’s structure is to support the companies in their guild with anything they may need. Even if some of the companies compete with themselves directly, the guild must help each both equally. In addition to this, the government of Italy gives money towards the guild to further support local Italian business. This is distributed among the companies for production, maintenance, training etc.
The weaknesses of Verona Vale is that the companies are competitors. Sometimes it can be hard to all be under the same umbrella of a guild when you’re competing with others in it. In addition to this, most companies are small and new. With this comes many problems, the first being that they have a weak organization structure. This is why they need the consorzio to provide a structure for the company to succeed. Another problem is that their small share of the market makes them vulnerable. Once again Verona Vale comes in to pull together all these little companies and their resources to help them flourish in and outside of Italy.
This company visit today has been my favorite so far. I loved hearing about the business model and thinking through how difficult it would be to achieve something like this in the U.S. After the visit we spent the day exploring Verona. There was a market in the piazza today where we shopped around for fruit and souvenirs. I’m so sad to be leaving this beautiful city tomorrow and even Italy. Talk to you all tomorrow!