GFL - Hospitality industry
Are there any companies in Italy that do not feel the impact of the global crisis? The answer is yes, and it comes directly from Siziano (Pavia), where the GFL premises are based. Born in 1996, this little slice of Italy that works has the young and clean face of Luigi Rossi, CEO of the Group, who together with the other CEO, Guido Bonadonna, has created a company of 130 collaborators that has become, in 18 years, one of the leading suppliers of amenities for hotels and spa venues in Europe.
GFL’s story started by chance when four friends, Guido, Luigi, Federico and Lucia, took part in an editorial project. The idea was to produce a sponge soaked with bath foam to be sold with the Tutto turismo magazine. Today, Luigi and Guido have set up a plant of 18 thousand square meters, where most of the dispensers, soaps and hair & body wash vials distributed in the most important hotel chains in Europe are produced. The company manufactures and distributes 700 million of units per year and in 2013 has consolidated a turnover of 26 million Euro, an increase of 12% compared to 2012.
The complimentary toiletries business is still not very well known; however, it supplies hotels, spas and cruise ships with small tubes and vials indispensable for the guests’ personal care. It is about products that are used without reading labels or without paying attention to the package. Behind single dose shampoos, sachets with body wash and refreshing towels, there is a market that alone is worth several tens of millions of Euros per year, which invests some of its profits to develop, especially for medium and high level clients, products with quality certifications even higher than those of shampoos, shower gels and creams that you can buy every day at the supermarket.
It does not matter whether they are cheaper solutions, such as vials with shampoo and shower gel together, or a small tube line for 4 or 5-star hotels. “Behind these vials” says Luigi Rossi “there are investments in research and development, design, technical studies to preserve the environment and to certify the organic products”.
It is no surprise that GLF has a team of people working specifically on design; another team verifies that the raw materials used are biodegradable, eco-compatible and hypoallergenic, without parabens and preservatives, petrolatum and silicones used in the cosmetic industry. At GFL the fastidious attention towards the packaging and the raw materials includes also the manufacturing process: the machinery, modern and mostly automatic, reduces the production costs respecting the strict procedures for waste recycling and reduces the environmental impact.
One of the machines employed, the top-load casepacker palletizer MCV850 equipped with the Robocombi, is by the Marchesini Group and it has been purchased by GFL to complete a line for vial filling and labelling. A long lasting “courtship”, the relationship between the companies begun in 2005 thanks to Studiopack, the exclusive distributor of Marchesini solutions in Italy, to mature last year with the purchase of the MCV850. “I am often visiting trade fairs, always looking for the best innovations and the latest evolutions in the packaging field” confesses Rossi; “In the end, I decided to choose Marchesini because of the reliability linked to the brand. In our work, this is essential”.
The complimentary toiletries business has boomed in the last 20 years; it has now stabilised, still maintaining positive margins. In a sector where there is almost no space for small specialized companies, swept away by the Chinese competitors, only the medium-big companies such as GLF hold on. Besides the manufacturing plant in Siziano, GFL owns another factory in Switzerland and a branch in Hong Kong. France, thanks to its exclusive commercial agreement with the Accor Group, is GFL’s first market, followed by Italy, Spain, Germany and United Kingdom. An international reality that exports to 87 countries around the world, which has clients such as Sofitel and Novotel chains, as well as Costa Crociere and Grandi Navi Veloci, and that only fears Chinese competitors.
“The challenge against the Chinese market is hard”, admits Luigi Rossi. "But we have on our side the ability to produce and distribute high-quality products, with a unique design and controlled step by step. These are prestigious products Made in Europe that are really appreciated in the Far East. We are confident we will be successful even in this market soon".
In short, GFL’s work sheds a reassuring light on the safety of products used for personal care every time you stay at the hotel. And it still wants to grow: "We are always open to work with new cosmetic companies," says Rossi. "The procedure we use in these cases is that of the full service. Together with the client, we develop the idea of the product, whether it is a bottle or something else, and then our designers, always together with the client, study a tailored packaging solution. It is a work of high customization, which is more and more in demand, and not only from the big hotel chains".
A job that requires years of experience, that the Chinese competitors can only imitate. And the collaboration with valuable suppliers can only improve it.