The recent outbreak of COVID-19 on a worldwide scale is forcing the global economy to face a serious and unexpected phenomenon.
The impact that the virus will have on the planet’s economy is almost impossible to assess at the moment as it is influenced by several variables that are currently difficult to predict: the duration of the epidemic in our country, the extent of the remedial measures that will be taken and the spread of the virus in the rest of the world.
At such a time of great uncertainty, initiatives to collaborate and safeguard the situation are developing even among those companies who are usually engaged in healthy competition but who know how to interpret the delicacy of the moment and feel a strong desire to federate their efforts in shared objectives.
It is in this spirit that a group of companies in the furniture and design sector have established a new level of dialogue over recent weeks. An initial chat between a few individuals in just a few weeks has turned into a fervent digital round table involving some of the most important companies in the sector: B&B Italia, Bisazza, Boffi, Cappellini, Cassina, Flexform, Giorgetti, Molteni Group, Poltrona Frau.
The group’s first tangible result was a document drawn up two weeks ago to request a rent moratorium for all commercial properties that are currently closed. The companies proposed to reach an agreement that would reduce the cost of rent by 50% from April to December 2020. The request was immediately sent to all landlords of rented properties throughout the world and today constitutes an important tool and an effective basis for discussion.
Today the main objective of the group, and of the entire sector, is to ensure that production will recommence as foreseen on the 14th April.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO START PRODUCING AGAIN.
The trend of the number of cases of infection is finally giving some positive and encouraging signs.
The time has therefore come to start thinking about a new phase that foresees Italians returning to their social and productive life while respecting all the countermeasures that will have to be taken due to COVID-19.
One of the most urgent decisions to be taken in the coming days concerns the expected resumption of production in the country, now scheduled for the 14th of April.
It is a very important, almost decisive choice that will have a profound impact on the industrial, economic and social future of our country.
We continue to support the manufacturing sector as central to Italy, but it is important to remember that in 2017 in the European ranking we lost the long-maintained second position, following Germany, to France.
It is therefore fundamental that together we address the issue of returning to work and recognise the importance that this decision will have in preventing a great human and social tragedy transforming into a consequent industrial and economic catastrophe that would destroy thousands of businesses, meaning hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.
The furniture and design sector constitutes one of the 3 strategic sectors of Italian production. With the strength of its 20,000 active companies and 130,000 employees, the sector generates 23 billion in turnover with an export level that exceeds 60%.
If we considered the entire ‘Legno-Arredo’ wood and furniture industry, then we would be talking about 75,000 active companies with 315,000 employees and a turnover of 43 billion.
There are several reasons why the entrepreneurs in this important sector request to reopen the currently closed plants as soon as possible:
HEALTH COMES FIRST
The fact that factories are safe places should be reiterated. Following, and often exceeding, safety protocols, today our plants are safe places thanks to the layout of the production areas that respects social distancing, the possibility to measure temperatures through modern thermal scanners, meals distributed and consumed individually to temporarily avoid attending canteens, the use of appropriate and certified masks, and overalls and gloves when required, as well as the regular sanitisation of each environment with the most modern systems available.
The companies in this sector are in constant dialogue with the authorities and are attentive and available to evaluate the introduction of regulations and protection that go beyond what is required by law.