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Powering through the tough times: A Q&A with heritage Italian retailer, La Sportiva

In times of uncertainty and global economic struggle, it is very easy to be overwhelmed with the news coming from countries affected most by what’s going on. In 1929 we had the great depression, in 2008 we had the Great Recession and now in 2020 we face a new crisis, a crisis with complete uncertainty surrounding it. In times of uncertainty and economic struggle, we can choose to focus on the negative or we can focus on the positive and what companies are doing to combat this new worldwide struggle. Because we are all stronger when we work together.

La Sportiva was born in 1928 when its founder, Narciso Delladio, began hand-crafting wooden clogs and leather boots for the farmers and lumberjacks who worked in the surrounding Italian Alps.

The demand for Narciso’s boots grew after the war and his reputation would soon cross the borders of the neighbouring valleys. His knowledge of the craft and passion for innovation would run from generation to generation, through the 1950s when his son, Francesco, joined the business and the 1970s when Francesco’s sons Lorenzo, Luciano and Marco began working for the company.

La Sportiva is no stranger to economic struggle then and powered through the tough times from WW2 to the Great Recession of 2008 and today, COVID-19. As the Coronavirus continues to devastate the global economy, La Sportiva was forced to close its manufacturing plant due to the restrictions put in place. However, La Sportiva answered the call of its home country in an hour of need, repurposing its production facility to go from manufacturing outdoor mountaineering equipment to much needed medically certified laboratory coats and masks.

When news hit us here in Kooomo that one of our clients was doing this, we wanted to sit down and talk to them about it. We had a brief (Virtual) sit down with Luca Mich – Operation Marketing Manager and asked him a few questions:

How long can you see your manufacturing plants continuing this for?

It really depends on the request and for how long this situation will go on after the quarantine has ended. Our commitment is to satisfy the needs of the health system in Trentino and to help them for as long as is necessary. We have applied for the necessary certifications to produce masks and health apparel for the hospitals in order to be independent in doing this.

How long do you foresee the restrictions in Italy and internationally lasting?

We believe we will be able to reopen our facilities by the 18th of April or at the end of the month at the latest. It is difficult to know when ‘normality’ will return but I suspect it will be an additional several months.

Have you ceased all sales?

Yes, many orders were cancelled worldwide. We can’t tell yet in terms of a percentage, but it will be a significant decrease.

Do you believe there will be pent up demand once things go back to ‘normal’?

Yes, I suspect there will be. People are currently stuck in their homes and although the effect on the economy has been huge, I believe it can recover just as quickly. People will be looking forward to their outdoor pursuits again, exercising and enjoying the great outdoors. Restaurants will begin to fill, and people will begin to travel and get their plans back in the calendar.

La Sportiva has provided an initial commitment of 55,000 masks to the Protezione Civile (Italy’s Civil Protection Department) and has applied for the certifications to provide the much sought-after equipment directly to hospitals. Production is well underway on an initial 1,000 masks a day with manufacturing increasing to 3,000 pieces per day shortly.

Jason Fagan, Marketing Manager at Kooomo added: “It’s fantastic to see companies stepping up and helping their countries and front-line staff in situations like this. The uncertainty and struggle all businesses now face makes for a very difficult time but when we see businesses supporting their front-line staff like this it really reinforces the fact we are in this together. A big well done to our client, La Sportiva for helping to support the front-line staff in this hour of need.”

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