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Interview from Hub Magazine Issue 1 - available in Italian & English. To subscribe to Corriere del Ticino & recieve Hub complimentary link here
I am on hold to the offices of Giuseppe Lavazza, waiting to be connected. I ask myself where he may be whilst the department transferring the call puts me through. In Brazil? In China? At his home in Piedmont? A voice comes through, he says hello. His voice is filled throughout the next sixty minutes with a quiet and almost eager enthusiasm. We exchange a few pleasantries, then I start with my first question, and soon after an sense of enlightenment comes over me and I realize that Giuseppe Lavazza - born in 1965, Vice President of the global coffee group of the same name - is in the «future».
I realize that Giuseppe Lavazza - born in 1965, Vice President of the global coffee group of the same name - is «in the future».
His sharpness is such that it seems he is light years ahead, maybe even answering me as if he were already in 2025, maybe even 2030. It’s such a rare, clear-cut, journalistic sensation, a dialogue of such clarity. At these levels, the gaze of a high profile leader embraces many more things on a global scale than the gaze of that of an ordinary person. «You see» explains Lavazza, «with the pandemic we have skipped a cycle. The problems that we as a Group are facing in these months are those that we would have faced in five or ten years. We lost the ground from under our feet while we were running very fast. In order not to fall, we had to accelerate further».
A well-informed parenthesis: in 2019, with €2.2 billion in revenues and €127.4 million in net income, Lavazza reported +18% and +45%, respectively, over the previous year. Yes, they were running fast. «The Covid-19 economic crisis» he continues, «brought out tensions and limitations that we didn’t know we had. It was a litmus test, a sudden solicitation. Today we are realizing how important it is to act well in advance as to not be subjected to sudden events, and also how indispensable it is to defend principles and values that we took for granted and that are instead proving to be fundamental for building an increasingly civilized world coexistence.
We have witnessed in recent months the temptation of many nations to withdraw into themselves: this is a warning sign. People cannot live in a beehive. There is a need for an open world, capable of creating connections, contacts and exchanges». From this point on in the interview, Giuseppe Lavazza’s voice takes on a particular variance: his words and ideas become firmer and more precise, his vision of the present and of the future becomes even clearer.
From analysis we move on to strategy, from strategy to execution. At the Lavazza Group, the intention of all shareholders is to continue with the ongoing investment plan. «We had already started looking to the future. So, we’re going to continue» says Lavazza, and adds «The pandemic brought with it an impressive halt, that’s the first thing to say very clearly. It is a disaster that we must consider negative in its entirety. We must not allow it to revert and we must compress it as quickly as possible. It is devoid of any positive aspect or any communication that might entice some nostalgia. An economic regression. These somewhat idealistic topics need to be redefined considering what has occurred. In retrospect, we realize now that they bear with them consequences that in the long-term are at risk of being exactly those that unfortunately we have experienced in the last few months».
That’s the big issue of these years: the tension between forces looking backward and those «pulling forward». «Sustainability is the driving force behind the efforts we are all making to develop solutions that will make it possible to shift from a certain economic and industrial configuration to a different kind of development model. A rapid but non-destructive transition must be created. There is a trend to be encouraged: economics and finance are already moving in this direction. We must give time to the demand so that it consolidates without ideologies». Without ideologies: two words that sum up the challenge for the Lavazza Group and for those who simply can’t wait to drink a good coffee in a bar crowded with busy, happy people.
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