Innovative, internationally focused and sustainable. These are the three main attributes shared by the 50 leading emerging Italian brands, described by Legalcommunity founder Aldo Scaringella as “examples of excellence today, multinationals tomorrow“.

The brands are small to medium-sized companies with bags of potential. With a strong focus on current market trends, this group of companies currently generates overall revenue of €4.1 billion.

The collection of up-and-coming companies have been identified and analysed by the “Fashion, food, and furniture brands – the value of the 3Fs” research project, which is now in its fourth edition.


Growth drivers for SMEs

It is small businesses that are providing the shine for Italy at the moment. The study – entrusted to Icm Advisory – discovered that SMEs with revenue of between €30 million and €300 million per year are those best placed to take the next step up.

These companies are full of spark and dynamism – and their revenue is up to 200% higher than their average competitors. On top of that, they are growing at three times the pace.

So where do they operate? Well, mainly in the fashion, food and furniture sectors – three key industries in the Italian economic panorama.


Internationalisation: Italian products popular abroad

Now more than even before, internationalisation is a crucial growth driver for SMEs in the fashion, food and furniture sectors.

The vast majority of SMEs analysed – be they joint-stock (S.p.A.) or limited liability companies (srl) – are already successfully exporting to overseas markets. Increasingly, quality Italian brands are being met with appreciation by global clients in foreign markets, generating growing revenue for the companies able to tap in.

Among the stand-out brands is Twin Set, a leading player in the fashion sector who – with a vast network of nearly 80 stores around the world – is making the most of the internationalisation trend to generate revenue of over €230 million per year.


Sustainability and green conscience

The other big trend fuelling the growth of brands in the food, furniture and fashion sectors is sustainability.

Now while this may not be a new development, it is nonetheless becoming more and more crucial.

So what form does this focus on sustainability take?

While in the fashion and furniture sectors, the concept of sustainability is linked to words such as ecological, recycled and recyclable, in the food sector being green is about tapping into two key markets: organic food and free-from products (see gluten, sugar and lactose).

In recent years, the organic food industry has grown by 20% and reached a total market value of €1.3 billion in 2016, while the free-from sector is worth over €2 billion per year.

So, the time to take the big step up is now. But are SMEs really ready?

Perhaps they are, perhaps not. According to the experts, the only thing lacking is a sustained flood of investment. Yet not many Italian companies, in truth, are willing to sell up in order to grow, preferring to shun the world of mergers and acquisitions. Instead, they believe that a better path forward is to continuing tapping away at the market, focusing on demand and product quality while leaving others to play the numbers game. And although it might seem like a bizarre strategy, it is one that seems – inexplicably – to be paying off.