NeroGiardini, is a brand owned by Bag Spa, a company that produces and sells a million shoes a year. Based in Monte San Pietrangeli (FM) in the Marche Region, NeroGiardini lies at the heart of the local Fermo-Macerata footwear district, renowned for its leather craftsmanship traditions.
Born to a family of farming in 1957, Enrico Bracalente worked hard throughout his childhood. He went to school in the morning and then helped his parents in the field. He then went to learn the trade of shoe-making in a shoe factory in the nearby region. Soon he founded a shoe company with his brother Luigi.
He tells in an interview that, they started in the basement of a Church in the village. They did all of the things on their own in the beginning, procured the materials, created shoes (thirty a day, in the beginning) and dealt with the wholesalers, all at the same time. He also says that they didn’t have any financial resources, hence, once they were paid, they bought materials and started the process all over again.
The turning point for them was when a German company placed a large order. By then, they had invested in heavy machinery and increased production. They also started hiring people. By mid 1980s they were thirty. There was a transfer of ownership in May 1998 stemming from a clash of brand philosophy, the transfer made Enrico the sole owner.
The name of the brand comes from, a comic book hero (Nero) and the surname of a shoe-making entrepreneur from Vigevano (Giardini).
Born as a small workshop, the brand developed in 1990 and within a few years it became a real symbol in the world of footwear and also secured a place for itself in the fashion accessories sector. Today, Nero Giardini shoes are a fashion icon that goes beyond the national borders, proposing itself as the banner of Made in Italy in the world. In fact, each product is marked with the Made in Italy brand, being made with specialized craftsmanship that guarantees the constant enhancement and protection of Italian know-how.
Every day 15 thousand pairs of Nero Giardini shoes are produced by the Bag Spa (the company that owns Nero Giardini), the head of which is the entrepreneur Enrico Bracalente, who grew up in the province and managed to bring his beautiful shoes all over the world, becoming the promoter of a campaign to protect Made in Italy.
The decision to produce all his shoes in an Italian factory, unlike almost all other Italian brands, makes NeroGiardini footwear a 100% Italian product, which guarantees jobs and defends the know-how and style of Made in Italy. Despite the technological and industrial production of shoes, in fact, NeroGiardini, always tries to keep an imprint of craftsmanship and some phases of the work are still done by hand.
NeroGiardini has a tradition of sourcing its skilled workforce locally and enhancing the local communities. The result is the establishment of a three-year vocational program for “Operatori per la Calzatura” (Footwear industry manufacturing technicians). The program is open to 16-18 year old students who aim to join the company’s workforce.
The company also opened a nursey to help its employees and those of partner companies meet their childcare and professional needs.
The church of San Gregorio, destroyed by the 2009 earthquake that devastated L’Aquila and surrounding areas, was completely rebuilt through the efforts of the NeroGiardini and Enrico Bracalente.
Bag Spa, owner of NeroGiardini brand, closed 2017 with a turnover of 200 million euros, -4% (about 8 million) compared to 2016, but with a soaring exports increased by 20%.
“The 2017 results are not brilliant – admitted the patron Enrico Bracalente – but the balance sheets are more than satisfactory. We have lost 15 million euros in Italy, offset by the increase in exports, but we have maintained profits, perhaps even improved. We have invested in the European market and we see the first positive signs “. The objective of Bracalente is to reach a “turnover of 400-500 million euros in the decade”. To achieve this, the European market is strategic, “we need to consolidate the results in Italy, where I will keep production”.
Enrico Bracalente remains the sole administrator and leads Bag Spa that owns NeroGiardini. Today the company employees 2000 locals and produces 18,000 pairs of shoes daily.
The brand loyalty among the consumers is only increasing with the company policy of producing only in Italy relying on the traditional craftsmanship and aiming to improve the local economy while other major competitors are relocating their manufacturing units to other places for cheaper labor. It is acts like these along with the brand’s role in social development that makes it unique and loved.