AT THE SERVICE OF RESTAURANTS
Experience, the pursuit of quality and the desire to get involved are the trump cards of a leading distribution company in the food market
by Lorena Tedesco
The Veronese distribution company Italian Food Trading deals with the Import-Export of food products in Italy and abroad. In particular, it selects and exports high quality food products throughout Europe and the world which arise from collaboration with leading partners in the sector and which are destined for the catering sector. The company was founded by Nicola Bressan, the current owner and expert chef, with expertise in the import and export of food products.
ORIGINS AND STRUCTURE
«I founded the company in June 2003 with a partner who had experience in the food product distribution sector in the Horeca channel. Given my experiences abroad at a company that imported made in Italy products, Italian Food Trading was immediately able to respond to the request of the foreign market to receive food products. So much so that last year we achieved a turnover of 10 million euros, of which 50% was done abroad and the other 50% in the local market, i.e. Verona and neighboring provinces. Our staff is made up of 15 salespeople, 10 of whom are for the local market: in fact, we supply around 400 restaurants in the aforementioned area; then another 4 salesmen deal with exports, in particular, for 90%, the European Union, especially the Nordic countries, and we have about sixty wholesalers through whom we export».
In which sectors do you operate?
«The company specializes in the Horeca sector, therefore pure catering, it does not do large-scale distribution or retail. The choice derives from the fact that since I was a veteran of training first at the hotel management institute and then, up to the age of 23, as a cook, and having most of the salesmen come from the kitchen sector, we believe that having also been operators inside the restaurant can be translated into a small advantage, namely the ability to be able to advise, or to know how to select the best product in order to produce a higher degree of satisfaction».
What impact has Covid had on your company?
«The company is currently made up of 35 direct collaborators and before Covid we achieved a turnover of around 15 million euros. The advent of Covid has offered us the opportunity to do some "cleaning" of those customers for whom we were unable to achieve certain turnovers, or who had payment problems. So, absurdly, today we do less but we have strengthened the company a lot, so much so that we have decided to invest in new commercial ones. However, this year the numbers are growing, as in the whole sector».
As for the market, what has been the trend in recent years and in relation to 2019?
«Compared to 2019, we have recovered a lot in terms of volumes and values, but we have not reached the plus sign precisely because we have taken the path of rationalisation. In fact, our company operates in 3 sectors: in Italy, for the local market, abroad and then with the exclusive distribution of an oil that comes from America. For this reason we had to learn to rationalize in order to be able to manage everything well, for example by hiring salesmen who come from the restaurant business and who are therefore able to arrive at certain results more quickly. The same thing goes for customers: we had about 580 and 5 more commercial ones, but then, as already mentioned, we decided to make a selection, also based on creditworthiness».
Who are your main customers?
«We mainly serve restaurants and pizzerias, which represent 90% of our customers, while hotels cover only 5%. Today we can say that the payment terms are a little more regular and take place within the established times, instead in the Covid period payments took place in 80/85 days instead of 60 days and many took advantage of it, which is why we were forced to make choices… Unfortunately we have to do a lot of prevention and as soon as a new agreement is opened we do appropriate research to evaluate whether or not to take that particular customer. Unfortunately (and fortunately) Covid has made us very "drastic" and this has helped the company in terms of numbers; so much so that if before the loss was in the order of 0.8%, today we have reached 0.01%, also thanks to the eliminated customers who represented costs for the company due to their management".
What products do you have in your portfolio?
«We are lucky enough to operate in 3 sectors, of which the second is Abroad, which has had a stable share since 2005 and does not give any problems; then, with our oil that we sell exclusively for Italy, we generate considerable savings, in fact those who are used to spending 100,000 euros for oil with us spend 50,000. We have been selling it for 12 years and until last year it was one of our many products; later, however, given the increase in demand, we decided to invest in two figures dedicated exclusively to its sale around Italy, from north to south. We have other products in stock ranging from Frost and Fresh categories. We try to cover a range of products: before rationalizing our clientele we had around 3500 and handled 1700, today we have 2000 in our price list and handle more than a thousand. Selection has led us to be more efficient in purchasing and to have important results. And it was Covid that gave us the courage to make certain choices, because it is precisely in times of difficulty that people, collaborators, employees, customers and suppliers, had to lower their masks and we were able to see who we were really dealing with. For this reason, despite all the problems it has created for us, Covid has also represented an opportunity for us. And now we are reaping the benefits. However, I want to conclude by reiterating that our success is due to the precious collaboration of our agents, including the senior salesman for foreign countries Lukas and junior Elena and Guglielmo; the same thing applies to the Horeca Italia salesmen Mauro, Doriano, Federico, Davide, Nicola, Michele and Aldo. Furthermore, an acknowledgment goes to those who work in the frying oil sector, namely Giuseppe, Gabriele, Aniello and Michele».