How to turn competence into value

aperturaHeadquartered in Milano, Italy, Prodotti Gianni is a raw materials distributor and provider whose business started in 1948 and that entered the cosmetics market nearly 40 years later, after succeeding in the pharmaceutical, food and scientific research fields by always pursuing innovation
Three years after the Second World War was over mister Virgilio Gianni, a Milano-based physician, established its own raw materials distribution company, Prodotti Gianni, in the very heart of his hometown. And, as the company states today, he was also the first sales agent for the firm, fulfilling his customers’ orders by riding his bicycle around the streets of the city. Some 40 years later, in the mid-Eighties, Prodotti Gianni, originally focused on life science research, on the food industry and the pharmaceutical sector, decided to approach the cosmetics business as well. And its success continued. Thanks to the competence the brand has been developing throughout the decades, and thanks to the loyalty it owes its clients and suppliers, Prodotti Gianni is now a portable multinational with businesses in every continent and plans for a further growth. Recently, the company became part of the Virgilio holding, that incorporates the business units Prodotti Gianni has been either acquiring or creating with time. Running a fully owned testing lab and managing a dedicated marketing team, Prodotti Gianni fears no crisis or economic downturn, believing its skills are about to prove a winner in the future too, just as sales manager Luigi Bondurri told Kos World.

Luigi Bondurri
Luigi Bondurri

Could you explain us, mister Bondurri, what were the milestones in the company’s evolution?
Prodotti Gianni has always built upon an x-factor we consider crucial for distributors operating in the cosmetics scenario: and that element is innovation. We always pursued innovation in terms of raw materials, in first place. Thanks to its partners and subsidiaries or branch offices, in fact, Prodotti Gianni always managed to anticipate market trends, texture and claims. But it is our sales strategy to prove innovative too: the company was a pioneer in implementing an internal laboratory in order to demonstrate its raw materials’ effectiveness in formulations, and this was a huge driver for our offer. But innovation rhymes with information, as well, since we were among the first producers to provide our customers with a so-called Marketing-lab, run by two marketing and communication dedicated accounts, thanks to which we can also produce and release specific market and trend researches. Finally, Prodotti Gianni can rely on a highly-skilled workforce, with a graduate employees force (sales, marketing, technicians, regulatory), and has implemented an Internet site called where clients can look for the very information they need about raw materials, by also filtering the claims they can use for their end-products.

2What kind of markets and macro-regions are today the most important for your business?
Prodotti Gianni’s official headquarters are based in Milan, Italy, and in Paris, France, but we can also rely on a series of sales offices and agents in such Countries as Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. We are nowadays gaining important results from our French headquarter and we are confident that it could soon become an important source of revenues.

1Is there any country you would like to turn to, both for purchasing the materials you need, and to sell and distribute your own products?
Of course the Country of origin of our providers is no issue for Prodotti Gianni, while on the other hand we are indeed planning to expand our distribution network to North and South America, especially focusing on a series of highly specific products. Many of our customers already run manufacturing plants in the Americas and are already focused on this kind of solutions or products.

What are the main opportunities and the most critical issues a distributor has to face, in nowadays’ market, in order to compete as a top player both in our country and overseas?
We did not only have to deal with a single economic crisis, but with a series of financial downturns that became more frequent with time, in recent years. These phenomena have of course impacted our business model too, but we reacted to them by exploring and experimenting previously unexpected opportunities. First of all, Prodotti Gianni decided to faithfully stick to the values of maximum quality, setting up a policy of partnership with its end-users and customers. Our company’s motto reads Our competence, Your value and regards both our suppliers and customers. Competence translates into an in-depth knowledge of our products, from a technical point of view, but also deals with formulations and with the ability to offer our clients a complete documentation about our offer. But we also developed an outstanding competence in purchasing and importing the raw materials we generally use, as well as in managing our warehouses and logistics operations. When it comes to the obstacles we are facing, it is no news the market is becoming more competitive with time and business risks are increasing. But crises are no news either, they have always been there and always will, and they have to be considered as natural.

What kind of evolutions and changes, in your opinion, are about to affect the cosmetics’ distribution and the raw materials arena and how is Your company planning to face them?
Prodotti Gianni is today looking forward to optimizing its pre-sales and after-sales services range, believing that this is going to become a major factor of success for our customers and for the distribution business in general. Regulatory issues are becoming more stringent and urgent with time as well, and this means our technical service and the documentation the company is able to provide (i.e. the competence it has been able to develop) are more than crucial: they can be considered as a core-part of the product itself.

Cosmetics is just one of the four sectors Prodotti Gianni operates in. Could you give us an idea of the importance that the food, pharmaceutical and scientific research segments have?
Throughout the years Prodotti Gianni has been playing in the cosmetics, food, pharmaceutical and scientific research arenas with four dedicated marketing and sales teams. Thus, our revenue breakdown has not been affected by any significant shift in the recent past. What we see, is that both the food industry and the cosmetics sector have experienced an impressive performance and have grown at significant rates. We are confident this trend is about to continue and to consolidate.

You strongly stressed the importance of competence: does this concept also translate into forms of cooperation and collaboration with universities and/or other research centers?
In first place, as I already said, the company has enrolled four specialists to work at its internal laboratory, but, of course Prodotti Gianni can also rely on the partnerships it signed with a number of Italian universities, industry consultants, third parties and data bank-specialists, in order to keep its business skills updated. Of course, such a strategy requires massive investments but I have to point out that a major part of the competences we can today display has in fact sprung up from these investments, too.

Apart from the four researchers at the lab, how many employees does the company have?
Prodotti Gianni was established as a typical family company; but now it has a workforce of 64 people and runs a 2,500 square meters Iso, Haccp and Gmp-certified warehouse and 1500 square meters offices. Most of all, it recently span-off a holding company, called Virgilio Holding, which includes the other fully-owned companies belonging to the Group (Prodotti Gianni Srl, Dks Srl and Auriga Srl) together with its subsidiaries. And honesty, correctness, transparency are and have always been our guiding light.

Prodotti Gianni is a specialized player in four different business and industrial sectors, with which the company deals with dedicated teams of experts and specialists, always directly linked one another. Out of 64 overall employees, 13 people work in the cosmetics raw materials field while 14 more are fully committed to the food raw materials segment. Nine people, and 20 representatives, operate in the life sciences research arena and the squad is then completed by 13 pharma-nutraceutical experts; followed by a workgroup of four accounts employed in the Marketing lab.

Our competence, Your value is Prodotti Gianni’s motto, but to the company it represents much more than just a slogan, since it became, with time, one of its philosophy and strategy’s very foundations. It builds upon a series of pillars such as the knowledge of markets and products, customer satisfaction and loyalty to customers. In addition to that, Prodotti Gianni points out it is able to ensure maximum business transparency, together with laboratories support and logistic skills, in order to keep both its business and its customers’ activity successful.


by R.Carminati