The founding of Gruppo Fantoni dates back to 1882 when Achille Fantoni founded this artisan company in Osoppo. Fantoni boasts over two centuries of experience and is, today, one of the best-known European industries in the sector, with seven factories (one of which is located in Slovenia: Lesonit), 1,121 employees and an overall turnover, in 2005, of 309 million euros.
We travelled to Osoppo to meet Cav. Lav. Ing. Marco Fantoni, President of the Group. One of the questions that we put to him was:
“after five years of stagnation in the sector what are your forecasts for 2006?”
Answer: “Undoubtedly, the last few years have seen a reduction in growth rates, especially in Europe and in Italy but, we have to remember that, in terms of international economy, growth rates have been extremely positive and this situations seems likely to be consolidated over the next 2/3 years. Over the last few years, the European panel sector has undergone an important restructuring process.
Many companies have closed down on account of plants that have become obsolete and because of concentration processes, i.e. rationalization of the sector, whilst others have continued to grow, investing in quality and innovation. In my opinion, 2006 will be a positive year in terms of the recovery of volumes, a trend that was already noticeable on the Italian market during the last months of 2005.
A year that will mark a turning point?
Ostensibly yes we just hope that this will be confirmed by the market reality. Unfortunately, one thing is certain, the sector has been badly affected by a considerable increases in costs.
A factor that is likely to reduce competitiveness and, unfortunately about which, companies can do very little.
What are you referring to?.
To energy costs, on the one hand and to the so-called “bio-mass” policy, on the other. For decades Italy has not employed a coherent energy policy and the gas emergency is having a dramatic effect on costs, especially on electrical energy costs in view of the fact that most of our electricity supply depends on gas.
Furthermore, our sector is suffering from the sudden definition of “bio-mass” which permits the combustion of virgin wood with considerable incentives meaning that millions of tonnes of wood end up in bio-mass stations resulting in a lack of wood for the sector to which it was originally destined. The consequences of these decisions are having an extremely negative impact both on a national as well as European level.
Fantoni is also a leading manufacturer of office furniture, what are the prospects for this sector? We continually renew our product range with particular emphasis on quality of life in the workplace.
Additionally, one of our main aims is to offer clients a professional, rapid service. We have already planned other investments aimed at implementation of the above and, as you well know, investments are the most telling sign of an entrepreneur’s faith in the future”.