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A clean sweep

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“The Italian market is largely saturated when it comes to cleaning products such as ours,” says Director of Business Development and Marketing Riccardo Melegari. “That is why we are currently looking at how we can increase exports.” Arix currently generates between 12 and 15 % of turnover from exports, a relatively small amount given the fact that the company actually has quite a far-reaching export sales net work.

“We operate in 70 different countries and even have our own offices in some of them as well as selling through local distributors,” adds Mr. Melegari. “For example, we have a subsidiary in Poland, which is a key gateway to Eastern Europe, the Baltic states and beyond, and is also where some of our semi-finished and finished products with recycled material are manufactured. This year, we are working to develop new markets in the BRIC countries. To resolve import and customs difficulties, we are currently considering establishing a business unit in Brazil, which will have no problem importing the necessary raw materials.”

As a manufacturer of mass-produced consumer goods, national markets like Brazil with its large population are of particular interest. The same goes of course for Russia, India and China. “We also have a production and commercial unit in Shanghai, to oversee the Far East market,” says Mr. Melegari. “We hope to replicate our success in the French market where we manufacture a full range of products under private label on behalf of the big supermarket chains.”

As well as private label manufacturing, Arix enjoys great success with its own brands. Its core brand is its eponymous Arix line of sponges, scourers and cleaning cloths. Over the years it has been joined by other brand names such as Tonkita brooms and sweepers, Aquamassage body sponges, Stirokay ironing board covers and Splendelli scouring and washing up sponges.

Riccardo Melegari, Director of Business Development and Marketing
The Italian market is largely saturated when it comes to household cleaning products, which is why we are currently looking to increase exports. Riccardo MelegariDirector of Business Development and Marketing

More recently, Arix introduced Masterclean in 2016, a premium line of sponges and scourers with a professional plus. Its latest addition to the range is ‘Tonkita we like green’, which became the first line of brooms, mops, dustpans and buckets to be made completely from recycled and recyclable materials when it was launched at the beginning of 2017.

“We find ourselves in the middle of a green revolution in which much greater emphasis is being placed on environmentally friendly products,” says Marketing Manager Benito Giacometti. “It is a trend we are happy to promote in our own product range as it chimes fully with our own company philosophy.”

This eagerness to be more green is reflected in the export markets that Arix is hoping to target in the future. “The feedback we have had has been very positive,” states Mr. Giacometti. “This particular project has had a three-year genesis, but the response has more than justified the effort.”

“Arix will continue to innovate in the future and launch new products at trade exhibitions such as Marca in Bologna, private label events like the PLMA in Amsterdam and probably the Ambiente at Frankfurt Messe,” says Mr. Giacometti. “Our products, however, have to speak for themselves as we do not have the same kind of budget to throw at marketing campaigns as the big names in the sector. That is why we invest in product innovation and personal contacts with customers.”

Mr. Melegari is responsible for handling relations with the company’s sales partners and spends a lot of his time visiting them. “We have roughly 70 sales partners worldwide and I know at least 60 of them personally,” Mr. Melegari confirms. “Maintaining personal relationships is one of the keys to success of a family company like ours, as is the knowledge that we will always act in the long-term interests of the business. That reassures our customers that we will always make decisions in favour of the business rather than shortterm profits.”

For Arix, this means investing in its production capacity in order to meet increased demand from its growth targets in export markets. “Markets move much faster today and products have a much shorter life,” says Mr. Melegari. “If we want to sweep the market, we have to go with it.”

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