The positioning of Treviso and Belluno enterprises in global value chains

Processes of transformation of the productive fabric

Economy - published on 05 February 2024

Source: Press Office Presidency of the Chamber of Commerce of Treviso - Belluno | Dolomites

Treviso, Feb. 02, 2024. The recent end-of-year report on business demographics, in addition to highlighting the growth or decline of some sectors, allows us to draw attention to some phenomena of a less conjunctural nature, partly linked to real processes of transformation of the productive fabric, and partly related to effects induced by the administrative keeping of statistical archives.

With reference to the latter, in the last report, ample emphasis was given to the ex officio cancellation of more than 1,600 sole proprietorships (in the province of Treviso) and of almost 180 sole proprietorships in the province of Belluno. Cancellation which, on a technical level, took place due to failure to carry out management acts in the last three years, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 247/200.

But what types of firms found themselves in the condition of being cancelled? And in what sectors did they operate?

In the province of Treviso, 57.1% of these cancellations involved businesses run by foreign nationals. The highest concentration of foreign sole proprietorships, cancelled ex officio, was recorded in the fashion system (91%, almost all Chinese), in retail (76%, half of them in the name of entrepreneurs of Moroccan origin, mainly street vendors or door-to-door sales), and in construction (64%, mostly in the name of Eastern European entrepreneurs, Romania and Macedonia and Serbia in the lead, mainly concentrated in “building completion and finishing” activities).

Some sectors, however, are exceptions and see, among office cancellations, a prevalence of firms in the name of Italian entrepreneurs: it happens particularly in business services, personal services and catering. But these are sectors that, put together, do not make 15% of the office terminations arranged in the province of Treviso.

In the province of Belluno, the situation is similar, albeit with more modest numbers: 46% of these 180 cancellations involved businesses run predominantly or exclusively by foreign nationals. This quota rises to 77% in retail trade and 60% in construction.

Why do we return to these numbers? Because it is a useful picture to keep in mind –  comments the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Treviso-Belluno, Mario Pozza before tearing one’s hair out over the (undifferentiated) decline of businesses in the territories. These, with all evidence, are businesses born on the margins of the economy: in fashion the Chinese, foreign hawkers, small businesses of Eastern European finishers linked to construction. Businesses left behind perhaps also as a result of Covid, when quite a few foreigners returned to their home countries. Good, then, that our archives have been cleaned up: let’s just be careful not to read the figure in the false perspective of a generalized decline in the productive fabric.

In the face of such background noise from administrative archives, it becomes reckless to take total aggregates at face value. They draw contractions that are not actual.

Indeed, to claim that in the last 5 years (2018-2023) the province of Treviso has lost 1,820 firms becomes a gross statement. Under the surface of this change we have:

  • -2,400 sole proprietorships, of which 1,600 were cancelled ex officio (and -720 in agriculture);
  • +600 business establishments, with reference to all other legal forms (with agriculture, construction and the advanced tertiary sector offsetting the contraction in manufacturing and trade);
  • +1,315 dependent local units, the daughters of further complex phenomena, such as multi-location strategies (branches of supermarkets, banks, industries, service networks) or merger by incorporation processes (when a company is incorporated into another company, it legally ceases to be a headquarters and becomes a dependent local unit).

These are trends, decline in headquarters and growth in dependent local units, which can also be detected at the sectoral level, in engineering, for example, there are +136 dependent local units and (excluding sole proprietorships) -76 business locations in the 5 years considered.

In Belluno, too, this macro-segmentation allows a more shrewd reading of the dynamics. It is one thing to talk about -568 enterprises in the five years considered. It is another to understand that behind this total change we have:

  • -504 sole proprietorships, of which 177 were cancelled ex officio (among the actual cancellations, the suffering of retail trade, especially those related to neighborhood emporiums, stands out);
  • -64 business establishments, with reference to all other legal forms (decline sustained mainly by manufacturing, mechanics and eyewear);
  • +413 dependent local units, with growth over the five years distributed among all sectors, among which accommodation and catering stands out in particular (+118 units).

These are the coordinates we urge to use – President Pozza argues – to analyze well the dynamics of the sectors. To also understand the balances between dynamics of headquarters and branches. To also study, far deeper than these numbers, the new ties of command and proprietary control behind them. In a study we did last year for the Ordine dei Commercialisti del Triveneto, based on Infocamere data, we highlighted that almost 2,000 companies in Veneto are now controlled by other Italian companies located outside the region; to which we add another 2,300 companies in Veneto whose majority control is held by foreign companies.

This positioning of our companies within global value chains, by sales flows or by ownership structures, must lead us to consider our territory with new eyes – concludes the President – We need to understand what are the strategic factors that fuel system competitiveness, that facilitate infrastructure connections, attract investment, foster the growth of localized intelligence, not otherwise replaceable. Also to give our young people a future of challenge and prosperity. On all this – says Pozza we are working hard with the Economic Observatory and Ca’ Foscari University, precisely to bring to the tables that count a mapping of the structural determinants that make possible a new development cycle for the territory, as a protagonist and not on the sidelines of these complex scenarios.

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