Reacting to the Crisis

We have all felt the effects of the recession and many of us have had to find ways to survive it. Here are some suggestions from people who are giving it a go, those who are treading new ground and others who think they’ve cracked it.
Reinvent Yourself as a Foreign Consultant
“For anybody with a well-organised kitchen who can safely leave it running without any decrease in quality, working as a foreign consultant can be an excellent way to open new opportunities from an entrepreneurial point of view.” This is what Denis Dianin, owner of d&g patisserie in Selvazzano Dentro (PD), recommends, having provided a consultancy service in Montenegro, Croatia, Spain and Malaysia for the past four years. In recent years, requests for Made in Italy produce have come thick and fast from countries that have had an influx of capital or rather, countries that have currently have a larger growth margin and where government is offering companies a lot of room to develop. Italian skills, recipes and techniques are all in demand abroad. “I usually offer consultancy for between 5-10 days, during which I oversee the reorganisation of the kitchen and working methods so it is equipped to make one of my pastry ranges, which are very popular thanks to their typical Italian taste and strictly French aesthetic” explains Dianin. “It is certainly a profitable experience, calculate an average of 1000 euros net a day with all expenses paid, but not only from an economic perspective. It is a constant opportunity to develop and update your own technical, professional and cultural knowledge. There is no room for growth if you never leave your own kitchen. As for the entrepreneurial opportunities I mentioned above, I have taken advantage of an opportunity for expansion in Malaysia: thanks to a large investor, I am starting a central production HQ in Kuala Lumpur, which will serve d&g sales points in Kuala Lumpur itself, then Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai.” Not bad at all for a young, ‘small’ (but great, Ed.) Italian pastry chef!
Keep Prices Down with Monoportions
We can invent anything you like, but the problem remains that people have no money. This is where Enzo Di Pasquale, who runs a patisserie of the same name in Ragusa (CT) comes in. “To tackle the economic problems our clients were experiencing, we reduced our portions and of course our prices. We downsized our slushy drink from 180 g to 120 g and reduced the price from €2 to €1 for example. Our ice-cream cone at €2 became a mini-cone for €1.70. Families that used to buy 1kg of ice cream now buy half a kilo. Catering bookings used to be for at least 400 people and now the guest list is just over 100. It is pointless to ignore the fact that we have been really hit by the crisis: we used to have 15 employees and now we only have 9 and in 2013 we suffered an 8% drop in turnover. The investment we made in our website (which we received a Gambero Rosso award for) was certainly useful in terms of our image, but it did not boost business. In fact, online sales only represent 2% of our overall turnover. The only benefit is being listed in guide books and foreign press, which encourages tourists who are much more willing to spend at the moment.”

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