Some background on Italy and the Italian licensee.

When Flli. Zucchini entered into the first licensee agreement with Evode Ltd. in 1955 the population of Italy was estimated at 47 million souls living in 131,000 sq. miles of territory (UK 50,300 sq. miles) consisting of mainland Italy and two large islands, Sardinia and Sicily and a number of other smaller islands sovereign to Italy. Two other sovereign states exist on the Italian mainland; San Marino and the Vatican City.

The country has borders in the north with Austria and Switzerland, in the north west with France and what was at that time Yugoslavia to the north east. Being a peninsula it is surrounded by seas. To the west are the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian seas, to the south the Mediterranean and to the east the Adriatic and Ionian seas.

It is a Republic practising universal suffrage having previously been a monarchy and a totalitarian state. Following 18 years under the domination of a Fascist regime led by Mussolini and a vicious campaign fought over its territory between 1944 and 1945 which threw up communist dominated partisan groups, the political post-war scene was very unstable. Governments came and went with a frequency not experienced by other western European states and even into the late 20th. century governments were composed of parties which could barely tolerate each other.

The President is the head of state presiding over a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. The country is divided into 20 regions which are sub-divided into provinces and communes.

The climate is highly dependant upon geographical features ranging from alpine in the mountainous regions to semi-tropical along the west coast. The Apennine range of mountains runs virtually the whole length of the country influencing weather pertaining to the east and west but governed by the prevailing winds from the surrounding seas, the exception being the plain of Lombardy in the north which experiences a continental climate of hot dry summers and cold winters.

Historically Italy did not have an industrial revolution although there are a number of world renowned engineering and manufacturing companies mainly situated in the north. The north/south divide has long been a problem in Italy with the south being dependant on agriculture and remaining very much the poor relation with regards wealth creation. During the late 19th. and early 20th. centuries an estimated 6 million people emigrated from Italy mainly to the USA.

Italy was amongst the founder members of the European Coal and Steel Community which eventually became the European Union. It is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the Western European Union and EMU.

Italy is a relatively young European democracy evolving from a fragmented situation in the Middle Ages when the peninsula was ruled by a combination of the Republic of Venice, the Papal States and the Kingdom of Naples. In the mid 19th. century the unification of Italy (the Risorgimento) was achieved under the leadership of the now Italian heroes Mazzini amd Garibaldi. Out of self interest, to attain Austrian territory to the north, Italy fought on the Allied side during World War I. Territorial aspirations continued under Mussolini when an attempt at empire building in Africa was pursued by the annexation of Libya, war with Abyssinia and the invasion of British Somaliland which were all lost to British forces during fighting between 1940 and 1943. Following the Allied landings at Solerno on 9 September 1943 Italy surrendered and effectively withdrew from hostilities.

Of the many licensees appointed by HS, Flli. Zucchini were, in my opinion, the best. Based on a long established family business in the hardware trade in which all of the family were participants to some degree, the people we had to deal with were educated gentlemen and, although there were differences of opinion from time to time, I can never remember any unpleasant situations arising.

From the outset, I believe they accepted that, while they were licensing from Evode to manufacture a range of products which had proved successful in UK, it was their problem to adapt and modify these products to suit their home market and to manufacture them in the most economically efficient manner. This they did by investing in personnel and equipment, visiting Stafford regularly and accepting visitors from Stafford to discuss problems and progress.

The fact that their business was based in Ferrara proved to be a difficulty for them over the years. This was an area of the country where left wing administrations dominated the domestic scene and unions were strong. This combination frustrated Flli. Zucchini for many years with regard to their expansionist ambitions and desire to enter spheres of new technology. It was most commendable that they solved many of these problems by creating the new plant in San Marino and installing new equipment which gave them a foothold in the very lucrative Italian shoe industry.