With its Italian roots and multinational vision, Visottica Comotec’s role as a worldwide leader in metal components has been further enhanced with the acquisition of Eurodecori in March 2021 – a company with expertise in the production and processing of zamak (zinc alloy) elements. 20/20 EUROPE spoke to Rinaldo Montalban, President, to understand the full implications of the strategic acquisition and how the company views its place in optics for the future.
Q: Can you explain to us Visottica Comotec’s historic place in optics, for those who are not familiar with your company activities?
A: Visottica Comotec, founded in 1947, is a global leader in manufacturing components and small parts for eyeglasses. Our main site is in Italy, in Susegana (Treviso), close to the heart of the most important eyewear district in the world, but we collaborate with the top players of the sector and we stand out for a strong international vision that led us to thrive in our target market. The Group expresses a manufacturing culture based on the combination of a strong Italian inheritance and a global approach. In this context, we have led in the years a policy of strategic operation and acquisitions that made our offer increasingly wide, integrated and complete, driving us to the realization of a technological hub of the highest level in terms of skills and technologies.
Q: Visottica Comotec acquired Eurodecori in March 2021 – a key strategic step for your international business. Can you tell us about this development?
A: The recent acquisition of Eurodecori - a manufacturer of excellence from Belluno specialized in the production and processing of details in zamac (a zinc alloy) - has a strategic value for our Group. In today’s market, in which glasses are essential fashion accessories, embellishments, logos and decorative elements become important components. Eurodecori has in this sense an extremely specialized know-how and a precious array of competences that have become a part of our asset and complete our market offer. We will create valuable synergies between the different companies that are part of Visottica Comotec and we will be able to offer a more complete service to our clients.
Q: What are the key changes that will come with this new partnership? Comment on how you can further diversify your offer and key product launches planned in response to the new trends.
A: The acquisition of Eurodecori is part of a process of growth initiated in the past years through a policy of strategic acquisitions that led to broaden and integrate the offer of our Group. Since 2017 we have also welcomed in the Visottica Comotec Group Ookii, a company specialized for over 30 years in cold forging technology applied to various materials and Matrix, manufacturing leader of components in MIM and microcasting, both located in the Veneto-based eyewear district but with a diversified business also in other sectors such as clothing, sporting articles, fashion, medical and industrial. The guiding principle of the past ten years has been to consolidate the role of Visottica Comotec as the go-to company for satisfying the demands of clients, both for standard components and for customized ones. All of this is achieved thanks to state-of-the-art processing equipment teamed with a wide range of materials that the skilled experts at Visottica Comotec combine using ingenious creative solutions to come up with the most elegant and innovative products.
Q: Visottica Comotec underlines its Italian heritage and global capabilities today as a winning combination. Can you explain this positioning in a little more detail?
A: The combination of a strong Italian heritage and a global approach is without a doubt one of our strongest points, thanks to a continuous exchange of competences and know-how between the various sites located around the world. The heart of the company is in Italy, where we have four production plants and as many research and development departments and sales offices. In addition, we have a production plant and a sales office in China and a trading company in Hong Kong. And it is exactly this constant dialogue between our diverse realities that represents the strength of the Group, that can count on a total of about 1200 employees, with a production of over a billion pieces a year, for a total turnover that amounted to 70 million euros in 2019, and a wealth of experience, competence and reliability protected by 55 international patents. The investments in Research and Development and the protection of intellectual property have always been an important focus for the Company, even in the toughest moments. At the end of 2020 and throughout the first months of 2021 we launched two new products, very different from each other: the 2D, a component with a marked sense of aesthetics, and the Octopus 2.3, the smallest 5-junctured elastic zipper, highly technological.
Q: Comment on the implications of the global pandemic on business in the last 18 months. How do you see things moving forward in the coming season to achieve less disruption, particularly in production/manufacturing?
A: Obviously the impact of the pandemic was significant for the whole eyewear sector, and affected the entire supply chain. The initial outbreak in China ignited panic in the export markets, distributors and brands exerted a strong pressure on the supply chain. Then the situation was turned completely upside down: while China went back to production - and in a short time - western Countries entered the lockdown. The key for us in that moment was acknowledging the value of our human capital. We preserved our workforce even in the most uncertain moments, slowing down the pace, producing for stock, but never giving up on anyone. We believed in it, and that was a crucial element that allowed us to anticipate the competition when the worst was over. Furthermore, driven by the impossibility of physically being close to our clients during the months of lockdown, we invested substantially in the development of new digital solutions to present our products to the market in an equally efficient and innovative way. Although 2020 was characterized by a drop in revenue, we can say that we have already left it behind and in 2021 we are achieving objectives that are even more ambitious than in 2019, which remains our benchmark year for every type of comparison.
Q: What are the next steps for Visottica Comotec looking ahead into 2022?
A: We are projecting ourselves towards the new challenges of the sector, with the aim of expanding our business towards new areas, especially fashion. The market offers new opportunities and we are ready to seize them, with the objective of reaffirming ourselves as a reliable, innovative and top-quality partner. The acquisition of Eurodecori follows exactly this direction: we intend to work more and more towards creating synergies between the different companies of the Group, consolidating an already largely achieved global leadership. In addition, we predict important investments in terms of Research and Development, mostly focused on products and new technologies. Even though sadly in the past two years we have slowed down due to contingencies, ethical and environmental themes are particularly close to our hearts, especially in the context of studying materials and alternative processes, of circularity and re-use. Refocusing our attention on these topics has become a urge necessity, from the point of view of competitiveness as well. We are moving in this direction.
Q: How do you respond to the fast pace of change in the optics sector?
A: Investing in innovation will be the key to meet the needs of an ever-changing market. Design, raw material and functionality will be the areas of the new frontier of eyewear. The main driver will surely be that of sustainability: Visottica Comotec is studying new solutions in terms of materials but also from the point of view of production processes.