Pistoia businesses want to change their pace on international markets. The flection in exports during the first semester of 2013, in contrast to both the regional and national trends, and the lesser vigor of some of the sectors that drive the local economy in areas with high development potential dictate the various economic entities and institutions to find routes to push Pistoia’s products over the border.

This is how the “Pistoia nel mondo” [Pistoia world wide] was born. It is an analysis of the current presence abroad of local businesses, as well as of the current difficulties faced by SME’s; and which aims to transform, in a second phase, into a common actions and strategies. There are two ingredients essential for recovery: dimensional growth of businesses and the strengthening of presence on relevant markets (such as the United States) or more promising markets (Russia and China) compared to the current outlet markets for products from Pistoia.

From an analysis of 363 local businesses that emerged from Intesa Sanpaolo 2012 database, only six are of large dimensions, meaning with a turnover in excess of 50 million Euros, and only 40 are of medium dimensions (turnovers of 10-50 million). A scenario that is geared towards the small and very small businesses that encounters increased difficulties when adopting competitive strategies abroad: “The quality certification and efficient branding policies are still limited in their diffusion, as are investments in innovation, environment, and internationalization,” writes Giovanni Foresti, senior economist of the Industry&Banking Office of Intesa Sanpaolo’s Research and Analysis Service. An opportunity to reduce the dimensional gap with foreign competitors is, for example, recourse to the “business networks”, which are contracts between the companies in a territory to collaborate, exchange know-how, and initiatives: usually these contracts are sought out by companies to improve their productive efficiency and to attract Research&Development projects, but also to create a common brand with which to present oneself to the markets, as well as for projects geared towards environmental sustainability and energy savings. “The dimensional strengthening of the businesses in the province of Pistoia, including through lighter forms of aggregations, such as the business networks, is therefore crucial not only to overcome the critical issues that arose on foreign markets in the past, but also to maximally exploit the growth potential found in both some new markets as well as in some advanced areas, such as the United States”, the Intesa Sanpaolo report concludes.

The second essential ingredient for the recovery of Pistoia’s exports is the re-focalization of the outlet markets. In the past ten years, in fact, the province has lost positions on mature western markets such as France, Germany, United Kingdom, USA and Spain, and grew at a smaller rate compared to the national averages of Poland, Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Turkey, China and Algeria. The trends in the Middle East are also less than satisfactory. For the local economy’s cardinal sectors – the food&beverage (85 million in exports in 2012 and 2,000 workers) and the textile&garment (400 million in exports and 7,000 workers) primarily, but also furniture (126 million in exports with 1,800 workers) – it is important to latch back onto the German market and revive themselves on the American market, simultaneously, the focus must be shifted on the areas with the highest potential in the short to medium term for Pistoia’s specialized products, especially onto Russia and China.