What’s the state of the AV market in the home country of Powersoft, Prase Engineering, RCF and Screen Int? Our latest survey finds out.
Italy has the fourth largest economy in Europe, behind Germany, the UK and France. However, it did suffer very strongly during the crash of the previous decade, and some of our respondents referred to ‘the current economic crisis’ in their survey answers.
Levels of confidence in the Italian installation market remain flat, according to our survey respondents: the majority of respondents saw no change in this, compared with six months earlier. However, they were more optimistic about their personal fortunes, with most expecting their company’s revenue to increase over the next 12 months.
The vertical sectors believed to be showing the strongest growth were digital signage, retails and education; the least, sports venues, performing arts venues and houses of worship.
When it came to issues of concern to respondents’ own businesses, two of these predominated – and it’s perhaps not surprising, given the emphasis on economic conditions mentioned earlier, that both were financially related. The first was ‘clients going for lowest price rather than best value’ – which one respondent also linked to a general lack of appreciation of the details of projects by clients. The second was ‘credit terms and other cashflow issues’. The risk of not getting paid was a concern for some – particularly, they said, as there is little protection to be had in these circumstances. The reluctance of banks to advance credit to small and medium-sized private companies was also cited here.
We then asked our readers’ advice for companies trying to break into the Italian market. They advised manufacturers to invest for the long term and be sure to have a direct sales force; additionally, they should look at educating the market in their offering. Integrators were advised to think carefully before making the decision to enter the market – although one integrator commented that “if one goes for the high end market there should not be too many problems”.
Finally, we asked our respondents what they would like to change about the way the Italian installation market functions. One rather gloomy answer was: “There's too many things to change: mentality first of all, and that's the problem.” Another felt that there were too many distributors chasing after business. A third drew attention to the lack of consultants in the Italian market: “In Italy the category of consultants is a grey area – there should be a clear category as in many countries.” Perhaps this lack of consultants is a factor in the poor understanding of AV projects mentioned above?
Overall then, a somewhat mixed picture – but, to be fair, not significantly different from the impression garnered of other countries in these surveys.