MILAN — “We see a strategic vision that protects and relaunches the second-most important industry in Italy, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
So said Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy’s Camera della Moda, in commenting on the government’s 220 billion-euro PNRR, the Recovery and Resilience Plan mapped out by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Capasa said he was “happy to see a response to most of our requests and that the government is paying attention to the fashion industry.”
The plan, to be funded by the European Union and which the Camera said was presented to the European Commission on Friday, “is very specific and precise, and sets the conditions to grow the industry,” Capasa continued.
The government has earmarked funds targeted to the “same areas we believe are key for the fashion industry, such as training the younger generations, digitalization, investments in new technologies, and sustainability. It’s an important opening for us,” he noted, while acknowledging “it will take time” to see the full realization of the projects.
Italy’s fashion industry reported sales of almost 100 billion euros in 2019, but the impact of the pandemic dragged revenues down by 26 percent last year, Capasa reported.
The Camera chairman spoke about the Piano Transizione 4.0, which is described as the first step of the PNRR, to stimulate private investment and stabilize companies with measures set in motion from November 2020 to June 2023. He said 13.97 billion euros will be channeled into financing the Piano Transizione 4.0, which is expected to set up a committee to determine the changes needed to maximize efficiencies, and 1.95 billion euros will be used to refinance the Fondo 394/81, created to help the internationalization of companies.
The association has requested a tax break on activities connected to design and a rebalancing of the investments between small and medium-sized companies and larger, established ones and incentives to restructure business models. It has sought resources to update industrial property and funds to support investments in machinery and equipment that use the most advanced technologies.
“We think our ideas were well-received in their totality or partially, also those connected to gender equality, scholarships and employment bonuses for the younger generation,” Capasa said.
In particular, the PNRR sets aside 1.5 billion euros to strengthen professional training through the creation of networks with companies, universities and research centers. It also expects to direct 10 million euros to define a national system to certify gender equality, and 1.61 billion euros to finance research and innovation programs.
In March, Capasa was in Rome to speak about the industry’s prospects within the national Recovery and Resilience Plan during talks held by the lower Chamber’s industry commission and the Senate’s European budget and affairs commission. On that occasion, he quantified the sum needed to restart the fashion industry, badly affected by the coronavirus impact.
According to Capasa and the Camera, up to 3 billion euros would be necessary as part of an “immediate intervention” to support all the small and medium-sized enterprises in Italy, many counting fewer than 15 employees.
On Friday, Capasa said that amount was quantified for the first year and a half, while the Camera has asked for 2 billion euros a year over six years, “which is a fraction of what fashion contributes to Italy’s GDP.”
Presenting the Plan to Italy’s Parliament first, Draghi emphasized that it will decide the country’s destiny, credibility and reputation in the EU.
Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in February 2020, which has led to the death of more than 119,000 people and a contraction in the economy of 8.9 percent last year.
Italy, with Spain, is expected to receive one of the largest shares of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Plan of 750 billion euros.
Draghi believes that these investments will add 3.2 percentage points to gross domestic product between 2024 and 2026.
As reported, the Italian fashion industry is banding together to help one another, with several representatives of the Camera della Moda’s strategic committee, such as Patrizio Bertelli, chief executive officer of the Prada Group; Gildo Zegna, CEO of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, and Renzo Rosso, chairman of OTB, fronting initiatives and holding meetings with other associations and members of the government. Rosso, who has been selected by the Camera della Moda’s associates to be their representative in front of the institutions, was also chosen by Confindustria to be the association’s delegate focused on promoting the excellence, beauty and taste of Italian brands in the world. Confindustria is Italy’s largest association representing 150,000 domestic manufacturing and service companies.