I.In August he was sailing for three weeks – on the Tyrrhenian Islands off the Tuscan coast. “With the family on a boat at sea, you can’t do anything better in times of the Corona,” says Carlo Molteni. The whole of Italy is otherwise in a shutdown in August, not because of a virus, but to enjoy the summer. This year, of course, that was also different.
While the Patriarch of the Molteni Group took three weeks of vacation, his employees were only one week in the summer vacation. It was important to catch up on what the well-known furniture manufacturer Molteni & C from Lombardy had missed in the spring, when the company actually had to close for two months due to corona. Even after Christmas and over New Year’s Eve, Giussano worked hard.
“Corona was a shock for us”
While other industries are complaining, the furniture industry has come through the Corona year 2020 with a black eye. If you don’t go to the office, you don’t need a new dress or suit. In the home office, however, you want it to be pleasant and nice, so you buy a new desk chair, a new sofa or even a new kitchen.
This is also confirmed by the figures from the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM): After the Corona lockdown in spring, incoming orders in the summer months were well two-digit above the previous year and thus at an unusually high level for the season. “The high demand continued in the autumn,” says VDM managing director Jan Kurth. For kitchens there was an increase in orders of 23 percent compared to the previous year, for upholstered furniture it was an increase of 17, for home furniture even 31 percent. Overall, the VDM expected a drop in sales of only five percent for 2020.
This is pretty much in line with what Carlo Molteni predicted for his company. “Our sales last year will be a little below 2019, maybe five to six percent. But in 2019 our growth was also a good 20 percent. ”For this year, however, he is again assuming“ a sensational result ”.
“Corona was a shock for us,” says Carlo Molteni. Lombardy with Brianza, the heart of the Italian furniture industry, was hit particularly hard by the pandemic in the spring. There were almost 20,000 corona deaths from the beginning of March to the beginning of April in the northern Italian region with its metropolitan city of Milan.
The first machines came from Germany
For Carlo Molteni it was “a terrible time”, but from which his company learned a lot, such as working from home and better connecting people. Molteni did not have to dismiss any of its 1,000 or so employees, 400 of them at the company’s headquarters in Giussano. On the contrary: when production started up again, 20 additional employees were needed to process the many orders.
Carlo Molteni grew up in Brianza, north of Milan, in an area that has always been considered barren. That is why it was not farmers, but mainly craftsmen who settled in the region. The proximity to the big city of Milan paid off in particular. The richer the inhabitants became, the more noble and better the products became, which were mostly made by hand in the surrounding area for discerning customers. Today, like hardly any other city in the world, Milan stands for good fashion and good design.