Longino & Cardenal, luxury comes to the delicatessen
Longino & Cardenal, Italian company based in Pogliano Milanese, imports rare and precious foods from all over the world. And it resells them to the most important restaurant and hotels, boasting annual sales of 20 million euros.
It all began at the end of the 1980s when four young entrepreneurs from La Spezia, united by a passion for food and fine dining, decided to import fresh caviar from Iran to resell it to restaurants and specialized delicatessens.
With the fictitious name Longino&Cardenal (meant to represent a Swiss aristocrat and a Cuban fisherman), the four began to travel the world seeking out rare, precious food items, including select meats, poultry, fresh fish, vegetables, cheese and spices.
Today, the company, which has changed management over the years and moved from Liguria to Pogliano Milanese, has become a valuable resource for the fine-dining industry in Italy. It has also exported its business model to Hong Kong and Dubai, where there is an increasing interest in gourmet products from Western countries.
Business with restaurants and luxury hotels
Longino&Cardenal’s recent success is due to Riccardo Uleri (pictured), who is today the sole director after the other founders – Andrea Maggi, Renato Corradini, Edoardo Foce and Stefano Gibellini – parted ways with the company over the years. At the beginning of the 1990s, Uleri acquired the majority stake in the company, which today has 30 employees in Italy, 10 in Hong Kong and five in Dubai.
Longino&Cardenal imports quality products from countries like France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States (including the state of Alaska). These products range from important cuts of Spanish meats to smoked salmon from Ireland and from Madagascar pepper to Japanese amberjack. Products are then sold to 4,000 clients in Italy and about 300 abroad, mainly in high-end restaurants and luxury hotels like the Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental.
Annual sales of 20 million
The freshness of perishable foods is guaranteed by daily flights while products with a longer shelf life travel by boat. Some of the famous chefs that rely on Longino&Cardenal include Carlo Cracco, Antonino Cannavacciuolo, Andrea Berton and Claudio Sadler.
Uleri tells MAG that the company “has overall sales of 20 million euros per year (17.5 in Italy and 2.5 abroad), and, for 2016, we expect growth of 20%, equal to 25 million in sales.” The company’s finance model is “traditional,” relying on the banks and without other outside support.
Gourmet foods conquer Hong Kong and Dubai
In the last few years, Longino&Cardenal has expanded internationally, opening new offices in the markets of Hong Kong and Dubai (in 2013 and 2015 respectively).
In these places “very high-level gourmet foodstuffs are literally exploding,” says
Uleri. “Hong Kong is the fine-dining hub in Asia, and it is a city that is open to Western style. It is also easy to work there without any health issues or import duties,” unlike in Italy. The same goes for Dubai except for when it comes to meat, which must have Halal certification. Uleri explains that this is another market where “there is an increasing focus on gourmet foods, and the most important hotel chains with fine-dining restaurants are also present.”
What’s more, Dubai is to host Expo 2020. Another reason to get in on the ground floor of this continuously expanding market.