THE TALK: Less Quantity but Better Quality

Giuliano Castrenze, MD of World Diamond Group, launches an initiative of huge solidarity: free gourmand meals for the needy in the areas most affected by COVID19. Below, the details of the project and his entrepreneur vision of the crisis

Diamonds and haute cuisine. Your life is divided between these two parallel worlds which, in today’s health crisis, are meeting for the first time...

 «World Diamond Group is located in the gold district of Vicenza but I am originally from Brescia and I just couldn’t stand by and watch my city go through this tragedy without doing something. There is a company in Brescia, called “Mibon – Chef Sottovuoto”, which specializes in the home delivery of gourmand meals and WDG own a 72% share. The dishes are all devised by chef Michele Bontempi, who has come up with ready-made, labelled, single-serving menus. I thought it was an opportunity to be seized. Together with the Gruppo Volontari voluntary service in Garda, over the coming weeks, we will be delivery free meals to citizens in serious economic difficulties in Brescia and the surrounding province. All they need to do is apply on our website, I think it is a practical way to make my contribution for those who are suffering on two fronts at the moment, health and finance. 

What are you reflecting on in this moment of emergency?

Millions of ideas and solutions pass through the minds of us entrepreneurs. What we are experiencing is a little like the wartime stories our grandparents told us. This is an epochal change. And it is exactly for this reason that hasty decisions must not be made, like, for example, reducing the number of employees, throwing all efforts onto on-line at the expense of sales points, abandoning the traditional supply chain, etc. Everything depends on how long this emergency lasts. WDG has 700 active customers in Italy, which currently correspond to 700 closed doors. These numbers provide food for thought.»

 What can we really expect?

For my part, I can say that we already reduced our staff when the first government decree came into force by using up unused vacation days and we went from 30 employees to 15 and then from 15 to 7. Now they have all been temporarily laid-off and we will decide what to do later once we see the effects on the national territory. At the moment it is difficult to imagine the post-quarantine period. It depends on what happens from now to mid-April. If we go back to work in the next two weeks, we will be able to put most of the damage caused by the crisis aside in about two months. If, on the other hand, this standstill is prolonged, I am afraid that the effects will be much more long-term. And I am referring specifically to our sector. In Italy, the jewelry turnover comes from the masses, not from the rich who buy expensive items and which probably will continue to do so. Therefore, seeing that jewelry comes under the category of unnecessary purchases, the average family will include it in the list of things to go without. At least for a year or more. WDG is a solid, family-run company but, in such extreme moments, it wouldn’t take long to go from solid to a position of crisis.

What else also worries you? 

It is the lack of accuracy of some information that is circulating regarding the real crisis numbers. Due to personal curiosity, I checked the ISTAT statistics on the number of people who die in Italy: 1850, and that is in normal times, before Covid19, from various illnesses and accidents. Now, an average of 650 people are dying from Covid 19 every day. But when this is insistently repeated several times a day, it creates immediate panic. There is also a positive side to all of this: WDG has always focused on important jewelry for occasions to remember. Perhaps this difficult experience will force everyone to scale down the consumerism race and frequent purchases that follow changes in fashion. Therefore, less quantity but better quality. Our products are evergreen and this is why we have no concept of “new collection” or of seasonal items. We have jewelry linked to a special event instead. And all this could lead the consumer to reduce buying for buying’s sake and, as a consequence, buy with a more sustainable approach. 

Tell us more about the concrete measures that you are considering putting into action...

 I can certainly say that none of our employees will lose their job. And if the State does not intervene, we will guarantee salaries for 6 months. With the jewelers, that I am trying to keep in constant touch with in order to have the situation and mood under control, we will try to create a “network” of connections and profitable relations to support the division. It is time to understand the people we have been working with for years and with whom we must survive together by collaborating more than ever. We have been struck by an authentic economic tsunami which will affect all of us. 80/90% of Italian families live on their salary and for this reason, if the State does not directly put money in the pockets of those who need it instead of those who govern, who then waste time and the money itself, there will be a huge problem that will be difficult to overcome in the short term. I therefore expect the Government to give those who risk never seeing their salaries again a helping hand at last. The 25 billion Euros in the Cura Italia Decree are just a drop in the ocean: we need to decide immediately to suspend this fiscal year. It is the only way to give any hope of recovery for those who are now at home waiting to go back to work and, above all, hoping to still have a job to return to.

- Employees 35 + 22 sales representatives
- Markets: Italy, Europe, Middle East
- % export: 30%
- Financial statement 2019:  Euros 18 ml
- Point of Sales, Italy: 650 
- Point of Sales abroad: 60 (ca.)

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