ITALY-GERMANY: Transitions, new supply chain geographies and opportunities for SMEs

On 7 September, a workshop was held at FARETE, the trade fair organised and promoted by Confindustria Emilia and dedicated to national and international networking between companies, to discuss how SMEs are viewed by the German market, which is still a driving force for the Italian manufacturing fabric, what trends we need to address, and what future opportunities there are for companies.

The parterre consisted of Purchasing Managers from leading German companies in their sector (automotive, pharmaceutical and machine tools), as well as institutional representatives, who gave attendees a snapshot of the current situation and how the market is evolving.

Great importance was given by all speakers to Risk Management: the pandemic crisis and the war in Ukraine highlighted how vital this aspect has become for the stability and health of the company.

Another aspect that companies must pay attention to is the digital transition, as it is increasingly important to use technology to be more connected and to communicate with maximum speed, throughout the supply chain.

The ESG topic is very topical and central: all the companies present have started important projects in this direction, also towards the supply chain, with the aim of having the entire supply chain in line with the requirements within a few years; one of the companies has even defined as an indicator and strategic business objective the reduction of CO2 related to business processes and the final product.

4 Strengths of SMEs today

The topics of appreciation, strengths, for which SMEs are particularly valued were:

  • Relationship“: the creation of a “relationship” is considered the first key aspect, before proceeding to the insights on products and production technologies
  • Family-owned companies“: family-owned companies make decisions quickly, are very flexible and “always talk about work, even on Sunday lunchtime… and my wish is that they talk about me!” – words of one of the buyers
  • Problem solving“: an unquestionable feature that distinguishes Italian SMEs, which are able to find technical and technological solutions to any critical issues in a very short time
  • Small quantity production: support already at the stage of co-design, feasibility analysis, prototyping and pre-series, is a PLUS to be enhanced and developed

3 opportunities for continuous improvement

A number of aspects for improvement were then highlighted:

  • Lack of medium to long-term planning: an atavistic characteristic of Italian SMEs that struggle to plan strategies for the future, living instead on a daily basis
  • Respect for production plans: companies’ creativity often clashes with the need to ‘freeze’ procedures, methodologies and production plans, struggling to maintain repeatability over the medium term
  • Summer holidays (August): these are often a problem for companies that never stop production and instead have suppliers who close for at least two weeks for holidays

Nearshoring: an opportunity for Italian SMEs

Nearshoring, a phenomenon that has accelerated strongly in the post-pandemic and after the outbreak of war in Ukraine by German companies, is a big opportunity for Italian SMEs.

It is important, however, to focus on the aspects that make our country a ‘branch’ of the German one that can benefit from it:

  • a reduction in supply risk, thanks to the greater diversification of the supplier base
  • lower transport costs
  • simpler logistics management, also from an administrative and customs point of view
  • more immediate communication with partners, thanks also to the cultural proximity between the two countries

German-Italian collaboration as an element of success

Collaboration between Italian and German companies can therefore be a crucial element for the success of our Italian SMEs.

Combining the skills and resources of both countries can lead to fruitful business partnerships and sustainable growth.

In conclusion, the German market offers fertile ground for Italian companies seeking to expand their business abroad: with a well thought-out strategy, a thorough understanding of local dynamics and a constant commitment to quality and innovation, Italian SMEs can certainly make the most of the opportunities this market has to offer.

Enrico Mirotti


At Roncucci&Partners we help companies develop themselves and their business, embrace change and evolve to thrive in a world that is increasingly complicated, insidious and requires great expertise. We do this by applying punctual methods and rigorous strategies, the result of many years of experience and the richness of the numerous success stories we have conducted all over the world. Passion and method are indeed our guides to enhance the present and build the future.

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