Firenze Fiera S.p.A. is the company that manages the Florentine trade fair district and, therefore, the main structures used to host events, congresses, meetings and exhibitions in the city of Florence. It includes the Fortezza da Basso, the Palazzo dei Congressi and the Palazzo degli Affari. The company is the main partner of the Florence Convention & Visitors Bureau, a non-profit society whose mission is to promote the Florence destination internationally as a venue for congresses and events.
From 26 July 2017 Firenze Fiera is led by President Leonardo Bassilichi. Born in 1971, he entered the family business in 1990, brilliantly directing the marketing area since 1992. From 2005 to 2012, as General Manager, together with his brother Marco, he undertook a radical transformation in the company, which made it a leader in the Business Process Outsourcing at a national level.
In June 2012 he was appointed CEO of Bassilichi S.p.A., and from July 2017, with the entry of Bassilichi into the ICBPI group, he became President. Leonardo Bassilichi is currently also President of the Chamber of Commerce of Florence, a position he holds since 10 June 2014 and, from 14 July 2015, he is also Deputy President of Unioncamere Nazionale.ionale.
All the news about Firenze Fiera in 2019
Q: President Bassilichi, thank you for accepting this interview. Firenze Fiera is close to a major renovation, can you explain what it consists of?
A: The main purpose of Firenze Fiera, a company mainly owned by public institutions, should not be to grind profits, but to be a booster for the whole economy of the territory, thanks to the fairs and conferences. In the last financial statements, the value of production reached 15.9 million euro, + 5% compared to 2016, the gross operating margin was 2 million, + 3% compared to 2016, and in 2018 the forecast data are also more. But the most important thing is that the estimated induced turnover in the city was 561 million euros a year.
Resources that we would lose if we did not put in action the renovation of which you have rightly spoken and which consists of the real estate renovation expected for decades of a unique complex in the world and the consolidation of fairs and congresses together with the development of new activities.
Q: All the facilities that will be renovated will require a strong and capable commercial department, how do you intend to organize this aspect?
A: On the organizational level we have made the choice to look at our home and to enhance the internal skills, both because there are good professionals in the team, and because we want to consolidate their relationship with local and international players. As for the congress sector, the objective is to offer optimal structures for different customer segments on the market. In the exhibition sector, the strategic plan aims to transform the company into an Italian platform for the development of international, eco-sustainable and high cultural content. In this regard, we are working on new exhibitions in the areas of electric mobility and quality food, for the implementation of which is planned a whole series of events and off-site initiatives, in line with the market trend and with the characteristics of the fair district, located in the city center.
Q: How do you intend to continue the collaboration with the great local and international PCO and DMC?
A: The goal is to offer increasingly interesting and attractive solutions for international conferences, national and corporate events, significantly optimizing the use of space, which will have the capacity to host conferences from 500 to 5 thousand participants. In this way, the great international operators and local players will be able to count on a technologically advanced, highly competitive and modeled structure according to their needs in the heart of a wonderful city like Florence.
Q: Florence is characterized by important and famous fashion and craft fairs. Are you going to change something or expand these initiatives?
A: For the historic Handicrafts Trade Fair we are making a real revolution: the new exhibition, which will open its doors at the Fortezza da Basso from April 24th to May 1st 2019 will be called MIDA. We abandoned what many considered a big market and we are focusing exclusively on quality. The main objective of the new exhibition will be to connect the creative, productive and entrepreneurial realities of Tuscany and beyond, involving artisans, designers, companies, institutions and industry associations. An indispensable step to attract a new, more qualified and international public, thanks also to a revolutionized, green and impressive visual impact layout.
As far as fashion is concerned, we are consolidating the relationship with Pitti Immagine: it is our most important customer, its link with the city will be increasingly significant and even here the goal is to involve wider worlds.
Among the new initiatives, on the other hand, the fair on the collections of household linen, furnishing and nautical textiles is back in Florence. The first edition of the event, called TexStyle, was from 2 to 4 February at the Cavaniglia pavilion of the Fortezza da Basso and has filled a piece left empty in recent years in the Italian exhibition, that is an event entirely dedicated to the excellence of the planet textile.
Q: Do you think that in all these projects there is room for young people? If so, how?
A: There will not be only space, but we want to focus on young people. Just two examples: among the many novelties of the new edition of the Craftsmanship Exhibition there will be a pavilion reserved only for under-35s and the enhancement of live work done also by young artisans. And what about Didacta? We brought from Germany the format of a fair dedicated to training and the world of the school with the aim of growing a sector that is the basis for our young people. Diogenes said: “the foundations of every state are the education of its young people”. Here, we feel like making our small contribution to this project.
Q: From what we are told, Firenze Fiera is emerging as the leader of a Florentine revolution. Do you have any particular wishes and some request for the city?
A: First of all, more than Florence we will have to consider Tuscany as a minimum geography for our action … and then I would like the Fortezza da Basso to be seen not only as a place for fairs and congresses, but also for living. This is why in some periods of the year our facilities will be at the service of the city to welcome local events and rediscover the monumental part of the neighborhood, I think of the underground walkway inside the walls that we reopened this year and that has had an incredible success.
On a more general level, I like to stimulate Florence to become more livable and international. Great progress has been made in recent years and we must continue on this path. For example, do not stop the new airport runway and high-speed railways: if that were the case, all our efforts and investments could be vain.
Q: President, thank you again for your time and I wish you all the best for your work.