The coming together of Italian moving firm Vinelli & Scotto (V&S) and transport and logistics specialist FERCAM provides synergies that will bring long-term benefits to both businesses. Dominic Weaver spoke to V&S’s General Manager, Laura Busettini, and FERCAM’s Head of Transport Italy & Special Services, Davide Aonso, to find out more
The sale of Vinelli & Scotto (V&S) to South Tyrol-based transport and logistics company FERCAM was finalised earlier this year, with the aim of securing a future for the long-established Italian moving firm and its staff. According to the company’s General Manager, Laura Busettini, the deal will provide a broader platform on which to base future growth for the business.
V&S was founded in 1890 in Turin, by Francesco Vinelli, who left his family business to start up his own company. He joined forces with his cousin, combining their respective talents in shipping and transport to found Vinelli & Scotto.
Vinelli’s daughter Claudina ran the business from the start of the 1930s, leading it though the turbulent years of World War II and the rebuilding process in its aftermath. She shifted the company’s focus towards removal services and joined FIDI in 1967, which makes V&S one of the organisation’s longest-standing Affiliates.
Ottavio Busettini took over the running of the company in the early 1980s and focused on developing the international reach of its services. His daughters, Renata and Laura, joined at the same time, relocating to work from the firm’s offices in Venaria, Turin, and Concorezzo, Milan, respectively.
When their father died in 1992, the sisters took over management of the company, Laura as General Manager and Renata as CEO. During the next three decades, they continued to expand internationally and develop relocation services around V&S’s core business, achieving its goal of providing Italian and international clients with a single point of contact for mobility services. Under their stewardship, the company won several global awards for its work for clients including multinationals, banks and insurance companies, universities, and international research organisations.
The sisters had previously discussed what lay ahead for the company beyond their own tenures, but Laura says the pandemic really focused their minds on the issue of succession.
‘When COVID arrived, it made us very aware of what would happen to the company if anything happened to me or my sister,’ she says. ‘Neither of us have kids, and the people in the company wouldn’t be interested in taking over. But we wanted to give continuity to the staff and guarantee a future for the company – because it’s our baby and it has history, too.’
Around the same time, Davide Aonso, Head of Transport Italy & Special Services at transport and logistics provider FERCAM, had been approached by the head of the company to help strengthen its moving arm, Gondrand. He identified international expansion as a key area for doing so and, knowing that international moving is driven by great relationships’, he approached V&S as a potential target for acquisition.
When the companies met, they quickly discovered potential synergies based on their respective strengths. ‘Gondrand was weak on the international side and didn’t offer DSP services, which we did at V&S’ says Laura. ‘V&S was weaker on the domestic side, where Gondrand was very strong.’
She adds that V&S brings a well-established reputation in moving and an approach geared towards high quality. Becoming a part of FERCAM will allow it to put more energy into important areas such as sustainability, which a small company doesn’t always have the resources to do.
Aonso adds: ‘V&S was looking to secure a future for its business, and Gondrand needed to strengthen its international moving portfolio. We realised the two companies were a perfect fit and we now have a really strong organisation.’
There were some interesting coincidences, including the two companies’ complementary yellow/orange and blue colour branding and the fact that Gondrand was founded in Piazza San Marco, Milan, in 1866, and V&S in Piazza San Marco, Turin, 24 years later. Good omens that combining the businesses would turn out well.
After what Laura says was a ‘long engagement’ thanks to COVID, the two companies signed a purchase agreement on 22 December 2021, and the V&S international team began working under the FERCAM banner on 1 April 2022.
The deal retains both brands and, while ‘this may change in the future’, for now Gondrand represents the combined firms’ domestic business, including moving and storage, and V&S the international moves and DSP services.
The acquisition – and particularly the staff expertise it embodies – will play a key part in fulfilling Aonso’s ‘ambitious’ plans to reach turnover of €30m for the moving business by 2025, from the €10m expected this year, either through organic or inorganic (acquisitions) growth.
‘The human factor is one of the most important factors in success,’ he says, ‘and the skilled, professional personnel we have acquired will help us reach our objectives.’
Laura says she and Renata plan to remain in the company and help oversee the assimilation of the two businesses and the maintenance of the strong reputation V&S has built up.
‘We’d like to leave a trace of ourselves in the company,’ she says. ‘We’ve always been recognised as one of the most qualified and high-quality companies in Italy – as well as meticulous about customer service, with great attention to detail and responsiveness. So, of course, we want to transfer the philosophy and knowledge about how to do this into the new company – for now and into the future.’
Due to its switch to domestic, Gondrand will resign from FIDI at the end of 2022. V&S, which oversees all international moves, remains FIDI affiliated under its new brand name – V&S by FERCAM.