THE TALK: A Tale of Value and Strategic Vision

Gino Di Luca, owner of Cameo Italiano, faces the crisis by looking at what he left before the emergency and imagining a new company photograph after Covid-19

How would you define this crisis?
Let’s start from the fact that production efficiency has been decidedly reduced. I do not agree at all that it is a post-war scenario. War is the evolution of something that reflects what has been done, it is the result of a decision, it is not 100% endured. This is something entirely unexpected, unforeseen, totally new and it will have an impact that is impossible to predict. It is a situation that nobody caused. War is something that precipitates, and it is the daughter of an envisaged scenario. This situation happened from one day to the next. 

On an organizational level, how are you dealing with this emergency? 
I am used to thinking in a very simple manner but, as an entrepreneur, I am analyzing all the aspects and possible outcomes and I want to photograph the company as it was before the crisis and where it could be shortly. Starting from access to credit. I do not believe in 100% guarantees, At the moment, the government has not changed any of the laws that indemnify the banks. Therefore, even if you have guarantees but are already overdrawn, the bank will not give you the money. You have to reason on the basis of what you can do. Access to credit is not a foregone conclusion. We can take the money to cover the loss now but then we will have to think about how to pay back the debt.

What are the priorities to put on the agenda?
The brain never stops working and my priorities now are resting on five points. 
1. Analyze a scenario that nobody could have imagined
2. Acknowledge that the year will generate considerable losses
3. Understand how to manage the crisis and what the priorities are. For example, for us it means organizing our finances to cover labor cost management until all this is over,
4. Having reached this basic tranquility, focus on the positive aspect
5. Remove the emergency hat and go back to business wearing the hat of an entrepreneur.

How was Cameo Italiano doing at the beginning of 2020?
From the start of the year, we were nurturing and strengthening our digital presence. But I would like to point out that the beginning of the digital era does not mean the end of the physical store. The time has come to take advantage of the digital world even for a b2c communication. Ten years ago, that meant millions of Euros with television advertising. Nowadays, digital offers a much more affordable customer presence. We started with very clear ideas and our on-line vision is closely connected to off-line, it is the basic assumption from which we started. Those who see us on-line will go to the store with a better knowledge and will then buy. They go to investigate and get a better understanding. It is like part of falling in love that becomes complete on finding the balance between on- and off-line. And the brand will be able to grow. This is what out project is based on.

Faced with an inevitable production standstill, what activities are still ongoing? 
At the moment we are withstanding the storm. We are spreading the losses to give the project continuity over the coming years and, from a strategic viewpoint, we will resume from the markets and continue along our path. We are not at a total standstill. We are working with the television both on the Anglosaxon and Asian markets of origin, where teleshopping has not slowed down. USA, Canada, China, Japan, Australia. At the product level, the colors rather than the models make the difference: for example, in the USA and Canada, people prefer yellow gold plating while in Australia and Japan, white is favorite. If we speak of TV though, that is also changing and 40% of sales are made on the web platform. But I think that, from now and over the next few years, all walls between the various channels will disappear in favor of fluid inter-connection with the web as the market’s common denominator. 

How do you see the industry’s future?
Like everyone else, we are afraid. But so we should be. Feeling scared is an extremely positive thing because the brain sends signals that are listened to in order not to make mistakes and to do things well. I don’t want to be a doomsayer but I fear that many small companies will find themselves in dire straits. But perhaps it will be the start of a merger between small companies absorbed by the larger ones. In the understanding that we are starting from a moment of widespread difficulty and all the sector will suffer from the same thing. 

We often hear of “systemization” orphans. What do you think?
We work and collaborate with a large number of suppliers from other districts. The problem is not in this phase, in my opinion, criticality is something else. In our world, we have producers or retailers with totally different mentalities. And this is where the dialog fails. I think it is impossible to produce well without first having a clear strategic vision of how the jewelry will be distributed. We must realize that the world has changed and the two parts, producer and retailer, must speak the same language. We Italians must reason on the basis of strategic projects. Or rather, when to present to the customer and what is best to sell. Knowing the market where I want to sell is fundamental.

And what can you say about the future of jewelry?
Cameo Italiano is a “factory” with very few instruments because hands are our main tools. We have a price range that goes from a minimum of 100 Euros to a maximum of 1,000, but our strong point lies in items of between 200 and 500 Euros. We have been producing cameos for three generations and no price escapes my attention. My thought now turns to the younger generations and I want to use all the communication channels at my disposal to dialog with them. We make jewelry that allows us to speak of Italy and with this formula, we can rest assured that there is a story behind every item. Jewelry that is able to express the beauty and creativity of Italian know-how.

This world cannot die, it can only grow. 

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