Gatto Astucci: vision beyond COVID-19.

Cristiano Paravano, general manager of the Gatto Astucci parent company and member of the board of directors, talks exclusively to WMIDO about the steps takenby his group before theWestern world was devastated by COVID-19, and the evolution in its manufacturing.

Tell us about your group.

Currently we are an important player in the area of eyewear, beauty and jewellery. The group is composed of a number of companies operating in segments like packaging, cases, displays and solutions for in-store communication. Gatto Astucci is the parent company and boasts 83 years in business. Our manufacturing sites are located in Italy, Croatia and China.In 2019, our turnover was 48 million and we had a commercial presence in crucial fashion areas: Italy, France and Hong Kong. Our company is proud to have a strong vocation for manufacturing and it is characterised by a very strong commitment to sustainability: we began the sustainability project in 2013 and it evolves every year.

What actions did your company take to fight COVID-19?

In view of the number of years it has been on the market, I can state that my company is used to coping with economic-financial stress. For us COVID-19 began when it appeared in China and we immediately made preparations to cope with the long wave that would inevitably hit the Western world.The first reaction was to protect people, therefore aspects linked to the immediate management of our collaborators, followed by the economic-financial protection of the company.During the lockdown Gatto Astucci production was the only one we had to stop for a couple of weeks because the ATECO code did not include it amongstthe companies that would have been able to stay open, and also to protect our operators.

We are fully into stage 2. How is the reopening going?
The group has restarted all its manufacturing and commercial activities, with two markets that will necessarily come later: France and the USA. When we were “idle” we converted all our manufacturingunits in order to make a number of products for containing COVID-19: dividers for distancing in shops, hotels, restaurants… distance markers, masks (non PPE and not for medical use) were made in Italy and at our manufacturing site in Croatia. We produced a dedicated catalogue with a nationalistic imprint: almost all the products are Made in Italy and we are adding more products that are also Made in Italy.
 
What kind of market did you come up against?
The market in this segment is very competitive at international level and currently many companies have been converted. Even raw materials are lacking! Thanks to our capability and expertise we are creating a niche by making products that can be customised and used even when the pandemic is over.
 
What do you mean by customisable products?
We created customised developments based on our reference market.
 
What have you done for the eyewear industry?
We have created certain initiatives with some players in the world of lenses and these will target Italian opticians. Frankly, at this moment the problem is with deregulation: shops are finding it difficult to choose because of the economic damage caused by the block. Investing at this time is really difficult and they cannot afford to make a mistake!
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