Let’s restart

A talk with Lucio Ravedoni

Positivity, courage, and the desire to improve. Lucio Ravedoni, Sales Director at Montbel, tells us how the company has faced the health emergency which has hit the world.

Which measures did you put in place to deal with the emergency and to support your partners?
Right from the very start we paid the greatest attention to our staff: even before the unexpected closure, we started to slow down, up to cancelling already-organised international meetings. We then focused on organising “working from home” so that almost everybody had the chance, if necessary, to reassure customers that they had not been abandoned.

The export front. What is your view on international demand? Are some countries suffering more than others? And if so, which ones?
Historically we have been an export-oriented company, we deliver our collections to over 60 countries. The situation that has arisen over the last two months brings to mind the famous “Livella” by Totò. In other words, we are all in the same boat except, as far as I can see, some areas in Germany which, for various reasons, have suffered from the situation differently.

There is a lot of concern for the design and furniture sector. In a B2B market like yours, how is Montbel coping?
Montbel is coping well. First of all, we have adopted all, and I emphasise all, the guidelines that have been given to us in order to be able to work with peace of mind. We are trying to make our customers feel even at ease: we are in constant contact with them, and we are trying to meet every single request.

How are you reorganising the restart?
From the organisational point of view, we were ready before the government gave us the green light. We have sanitised everything we can, scrupulously wearing gloves and masks, and only essential personnel have returned to work on-site in order to ensure that contacts between people are kept to the minimum number possible.

We are in a delicate situation and new paradigms are being imposed: one is definitely brand-consumer communication. How do you think this is going to change?
I have a very personal, deep-rooted idea about it, which makes me think that human beings are not really going to change. I am fairly convinced that, once this emergency has passed, we are all going to fall back into our old habits. That said, it is clear that the virus has managed to show us the potential of smart working and digital devices: you can graduate from home, our children can attend daily lessons virtually, webinars have become an everyday experience for all of us, and video conferencing has allowed us to meet colleagues, agents and customers with the greatest of ease. What, perhaps, we need to improve is the “content”, not seeing each other in person means we need to be concise, clear, and persuasive… and we have not been used to doing this.

Strategies for the future. How do you think the pandemic will change the company’s approach to the market? How, for example, will your relationships with designers and retailers change?
Our basic strategies are not going to change. This moment is going to pass and we have to take advantage of it in order to improve, to strengthen the brand, to think differently.

Which collections will you focus on this year? Are you working on any new designs?
In recent years Montbel has produced a number of significant collections, probably more than really needed and this now reassures me a lot. Now is the time to stop for a moment and to think about restarting with even clearer ideas and with even better performing products.

Three values to restart with?
I would use the words of a businessman who knows a thing or two: Giorgio Armani.
“I hope that intelligence, common sense and courage prevail. It is time for bold decisions.”

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