Cautious optimism sustains the gold sector
Conducted prior to the war in Ukraine but recently updated, the survey confirms the excellent results for 2021: almost 60% of respondents had either experienced no drop in turnover in 2020 or had already fully recovered in 2021. Also relevant is the propensity to invest, with 60% of respondents stating that, despite the pandemic, they had increased their spending in the last two years in order to support a series of strategic interventions in the areas of training, human capital, production process digitization, R&D and brand enhancement.
Expectations for 2022 were positively oriented before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine with over 73% of respondents expecting further growth in turnover in a scenario that was looking favorable, particularly for the high-end segment, and on certain markets, such as the United States, which had once again become the main outlet for Italian jewellery.
The emergency created by the escalation of the war is therefore hitting the sector in an extremely favorable moment, raising shadows in an outlook that, on the whole, remains positive: the additional survey carried out after 24 February, shows that around 78% of those interviewed foresee a negative impact, linked in particular to the increase in raw material prices, a topic that was also the main criticality in the responses prior to the conflict, together with delays in supplies, which had led 40% of respondents to re-organize their supplies in favor of Italian operators within the supply chain.
However, the ability of operators to react is high: 30% of companies are thinking of organizational changes following the outbreak of the conflict, not only by reviewing supply channels but also price lists and sales channels.
Giorgio Villa, President of Club degli Orafi Italia, comments: «The 2021 figures confirm what we had already discerned as entrepreneurs: the jewelry sector has managed to react well to difficulties, continuing to invest, innovate and focus considerably on human capital. This has allowed Italian companies to be well organized to face this new crisis. Undoubtedly, the uncertainties and criticalities, mainly linked to the costs and availability of raw materials, are causing concern, but, as can be seen from the qualitative survey, the sector is still cautiously optimistic. It's a difficult moment for everyone but the entrepreneurial base is healthy and solid with real prospects and a positive attitude.»
Stefania Trenti, Head of Industry Research, Intesa Sanpaolo Studies and Research Department, adds: «In 2021, the Italian gold and jewellery sector showed extraordinary resilience: after the market collapse in 2020, the sector experienced a boom in sales that led, unlike the Fashion System sectors, to a full recovery of what had been lost during the pandemic, reaching record export levels. These results are the outcome of Italian operators’ extraordinary competitiveness and of investments made in recent years to enhance the high level of know-how and creativity that have always been a characteristic trait of the sector in Italy. The ongoing conflict is creating new uncertainties: apart from the impact of Russia and Ukraine on our exports, which is limited to 36 million euros (0.5% of the sector's exports, 25 million of which come from Russia), companies will certainly have to reckon with an increase in the price of precious metals, a traditional safe haven asset, and with more cautious consumers, especially on European markets. Opportunities in other markets, especially the United States and China, seem less compromised at the moment, although the situation will continue to be unsettled.»
Federica Frosini, Editor in Chief VO+