The panettone king has conquered France
Loison is worth nine million euros per year, with 50% of its sales coming from abroad. MAG met up with owner Dario Loison who spoke about the company’s future prospects: “We are focusing on innovative flavors.”
By francesca corradi
From a small business that made bread to a company that today has 9 million euros in turnover with its panettone. Tradition is the main ingredient and passion is what fires up Loison’s ovens, in line with its motto of “bakers since 1938.” For three generations, this family-run business has created dessert masterpieces – cakes and biscuits – which it exports to 55 countries.
This company headquartered in Costabissara, Italy, near Vicenza, owes part of its success to the Internet, considering that it has believed and invested in the web since the mid-1990s. What is truly unique is that hundreds of students come from all over the world to study the “Loison model,” where tradition and innovation are not separate tracks but are complementary elements behind its success.
Owner Dario Loison, who has been at the helm of the company since 1992, spoke to Mag about the first 80 years of this baked-goods business, which cooks up more than 5,000 artisanal products every day.
What is Loison’s strength?
We strongly believe in what we do, following the rules of good corporate practices and trying not to overlook any detail, working with a great deal of precision and perseverance. We are a small artisanal company made up of two different units: Loison Pasticceri, which answers to me and which has about 15 employees, and then there’s Sonia Design packaging, which my wife Sonia Pilla heads up. The Loison product is the result of quality—in terms of ingredients and production—combined with design and packaging.
Small but important numbers…
We produce between 5,000 and 6,000 items per day, four days per week, which we export throughout the year and not just for holidays. With turnover of about 9 million euros, 50% of sales come from abroad.
This year, 2018, was an important achievement with the company celebrating its 80th year in business. What has changed over the years?
Eighty years is an important anniversary not just a goal achieved—it is a boost, bringing out our enthusiasm and sense of strength, inspired as well by corporate indicators that confirm a positive trend year after year.
What are the main markets?
France, without a doubt. Sales are good in Germany and Holland as well, while, outside of Europe, there is a lot of interest from Canada, Australia and Asia. Things are going well in China also, though there is a wide gap in terms of income equality, and we’ve recently made inroads into Ghana, Zambiaand Montenegro.
What do you foresee happening in the next few years?
Improvement is the key word. We want to maintain and further strengthen our market segment by investing in innovative flavors. For 2018, for example, we are launching two new products: Panettone Nerosale with single-origin chocolate from South America and salted caramel (made entirely in the company and without the use of any mixes) and lemon panettone with IGP lemons from Syracuse and the sfusato lemon from Amalfi. We have not yet come up with a line for food allergies because we are aware of the complications of that, especially in terms of working in a facility where there can be no cross-contamination. Maybe that will be the next challenge…
Communication is your strong point…
We know how important it is to communicate and how much this has an impact on our business. That is why we invest so much in this area. We prefer the web to traditional communications, and this can be seen in our five different sites and continuous investments in our e-commerce channel. Thanks to the Internet, we are able to work “one on one,” and there are few companies truly do this, but it speeds up service to our customers.
You are a case study for many universities. What is education for you?
I believe in education a lot and would like to dedicate more time to it. Currently, we’ve had about 20 universities, 50% of them from outside Italy, and about 100 students from high schools and professional schools. Every year, for example, dozens of young South American managers from the International Business School of São Paulo choose to come to my facilities to learn more about business strategy & marketing.
What is the future of your baked-goods business?
I’ve always looked at baked goods with an innovative eye, not just in terms of ingredients but also in terms of production processes as well. Remember that we were first, twenty years ago, to talk about the Ciaculli mandarin, and, still today, we love to amaze our customers with new and much sought-after ingredients. Compared to other companies, Loison is still standing thanks to the continuous commitment we’ve put into diversifying, with more than 100 types of products for special occasions and every day. We would have never survived only with our traditional panettone and colomba desserts.
Do production and quality go hand in hand?
Absolutely. Production will increase but not for Christmas products because we know our limits, especially when it comes to quality. We are coming up with alternative complementary product lines that will be available all year and will not compromise Loison’s quality in the slightest.