GEO FOCUS: ITALY
This reinforces the sentiment that many Italian companies vocalise, of Italyâ€™s problematic economic sustainability when taken in isolation from the rest of the world. Guerranti is one of many who echo this, stating: â€œIndustry developments are highly inďŹ‚uenced by the size of the market and a lot of Italian companies have been forced to look for business outside of our borders for growth, or, in some cases, to survive.â€?
Another frequently cited obstacle standing ominously in this sector is not strictly ďŹ nancial, but regulatory. â€œEN54 is one of the latest regulations that has aďŹ€ected our industry, even if in Italy the lack of investments has not created many projects where this change could have been applied,â€? explains Giorgi. BiďŹƒ agrees: â€œAs far as the ďŹ xed install market, in my opinion the EN54 rules are signiďŹ cantly aďŹ€ecting the jobs.â€? EN54 is a mandatory safety standard implemented across the European Union relating to ďŹ re detection and alarm system compliance. With this new set of requirements that installations must now adhere to, many Italian companies are struggling to follow a safety
code that was hardly constructed with the pro-audio industry in mind. Guerranti explains: â€œThe introduction of EN54 has generated a price increase in the realisation of systems and projects, from equipment and assembling through to testing, modifying market demand and directing more and more clients towards certiďŹ ed products.â€?
A common theme that arises through discourse with Italian industry professionals is that of survival, which in itself gives a vivid sense of the industry landscape. And when the landscape is harsh and unforgiving, you have to be resourceful if you are to survive. Giorgi attests that the key to prosperity in the Italian market lies outside its borders. â€œPowersoft has historically worked more abroad than in the internal market and this has guaranteed the growth path of the company in the past 10 years. Only recently has our domestic market begun to produce signiďŹ cant results.â€? However, Amerio argues that quality of service is what has enabled them to remain an industry competitor: â€œArtesuono Recording Studios survives because we oďŹ€er high quality at reasonable rates. My idea is to oďŹ€er the
best quality at every stage along with good equipment. Quality and knowledge make a big diďŹ€erence.â€? BiďŹƒ shares this view, even going as far as to assert that quality of product is the very reason why Outline does not look beyond Italyâ€™s borders from a manufacturing point of view. â€œWe have never indulged in considering our products to be manufactured in full or in part in those countries that enjoy and oďŹ€er cheaper costs or reduced taxations because we could not guarantee our usual high quality standard,â€? he explains. Despite these beliefs, the future still looks uncertain, making it diďŹƒcult for anyone to forge a solid game plan. â€œIn the current economic and political situation, making a plan for the future is a gamble. Moreover, the Italian economic situation has been showing no signs of improvement,â€? says Giorgi. In the current climate, patience may be a virtue and a cautious strategy the way forward, says Kolton: â€œItalyâ€™s time to change is always longer than countries like the US,â€? suggesting the situation cannot be compared to other markets under similar duress. After all, there may be hope yet for the conditions for recovery and growth to bloom. As BiďŹƒ remarks: â€œThe political situation looks promising as well as stable, so we are conďŹ dent.â€?
Whatâ€™s having the biggest negative effect on the market at the moment? Economic uncertainty
How do you expect your sector to perform in 2015 compared with 2014?
Falling budgets Slow payments
Stay the same Other
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%