THE CARING AND HUMAN SIDE OF LICENSING

GIORGIO BORZINO FOR THE 51 YEARS OF SABOR

“Reliability is our most distinguishing feature”.

This is what Giorgio Borzino, CEO and owner of Sabor, answers when we ask him what differentiates his company from its competitors, telling us about a reliability relation born 51 years ago (last year Sabor celebrated its 50th anniversary) to serve retailers and their private labels; designing, manufacturing and distributing clothing for all ages, for men, women and kids.

«We are a second-generation company: we have inherited and carried on the teachings and example of our parents. My sister and I have managed, over time, to keep their vision of “reliability”, making it flexible and modern, allowing us to establish excellent relationships with customers and suppliers. For us to be flexible today – he explains – means being able to customize a service at its best, in order to face a constantly expanding market. Our company has as its vocation to serve buyers of big specialised retailers, and we are born in fact as suppliers of the French hypermarkets. We grew up with them in the 80s and when in the 90s same retailers came in Italy, along with the birth of licensing, we were able to satisfy the demand of the market».

A world that has changed a lot since you started.

«Licensing in recent years has undergone an affirmation of the value of the brands, and currently -more than licensing- we speak ¬¬almost exclusively in terms of collaborations, because they bring more traffic in stores. The success of licensing today only develops in two ways: in the first case you have to rely on a strong brand, as could be Disney, which is able alone to cross-over every channel in a cross-section, while in the second you have to be a licensee of a particularly innovative brand with a strong message, able to meet the demand of the market. For this reason it is necessary to be flexible using the graphics, and to have a wide choice of brands. In our line of business it is especially necessary to know how to treat the characters with a different and innovative vision, allowing them to be “fashion”, and to adapt to the trends of the moment».

In fashion as in licensing, if we talk about clothing, then there are trends.

«Sure, for example in recent seasons trends were almost exclusively linked to the entertainment industry, while today we find brands of companies with a great history, representing specific cultural values, such as Pringles or Morositas. The big difference compared to the past is that in recent years the trends have been very focused on the reference customer, and we have been particularly focused on the target audience, both in terms of age and of cultural aspects. We can therefore say that, despite the macro trends in our market, customer care is fundamental, where its meaning is to identify the perfect brand that, treated in the right way, can engage the customer».

Does it make sense to anticipate a trend?

«More than anticipating a trend we can say that our goal, and task, is to be as specific as possible in the proposal, managing to understand what our customers (B2B) wants but also what the final consumers (B2C) expects to find. You need to be able to understand them than anticipating their behavior. Here is where the graphic capabilities step in. We collect a lot of information about licensing, we know brands and characters’ performance and, by reducing the degree of risk, we are able to accompany our customers to a more targeted choice. The success of a property changes depending on the distribution channel and the product to which it applies, not always what sells well at a specific retailer is as prolific in other channels or with other product categories. This is why it’s important to have, as in our case, a wide brands portfolio. Currently we have about fifty active contracts and this allows us to position each property in the right target with the goal of maximizing the sellout».

You mentioned the importance of graphics in the product. Which, I guess, is developed by a team.

«Yes, as a company we have always invested a lot in creativity. Working in such a competitive market, sometimes it seems like we are in a competition where the winner is the one who creates the most original project, being the licensing deals usually not exclusive. We have an in-house team of creatives who collect market information on multiple fronts, always keeping an eye on cultural and fashion trends. For us the task of a right design is also to resonate with the buyers».

How do you manage the competition?

«Clear answer: the value – price rate. It’s a priority for us, and it’s a process that can be summarized in a few steps: the certification of the manufacturing companies, the respect of the social compliance regarding working conditions and the on-site control. We control the production through our staff, directly to the production sources and we ensure that the physical and chemical tests on the product are carried out by internationally recognized laboratories. Thanks to our experience, we can reduce the risks of an ever-unstable supply market. In addition, we can adapt to the demands of the market and make an attractive graphics with the management of a reasonable cost, especially compared to the category killers of fast fashion. The future challenge, of course, will be in terms of environmental sustainability».

What are your strongest properties?

«There are no stronger properties for us. We are actually renowned to cover all age groups, and if in the licensing apparel business many players focus exclusively on kids, we also develop a lot in the adult segment, wanting to hit a broader target audience».

Between change and innovation, are there plans for the future?

«We leave the announcements about major commercial projects, which we continue to develop, to others; a little spoiler? In September we’ll be at BLE – Brand Licensing Europe as exhibitors. Meanwhile we prefer to talk about our “human” projects. With the company we follow a very important charity project: Mercy Home. My sister Paola selected an orphanage in India, one of those who had less help than others, and we took care of it – buying the land, making sure it was stocked with food every month. For us it is not a matter of mere charity, but a commitment that translates into a solidarity aid. The purpose at the base is quite simple: we think that operating in that area we also have the responsibility to improve the standard of living of the local people, especially the ones in difficult situations. Meanwhile, some weeks ago, struck by the brutality of the war in Ukraine, we decided to organize and participate in a mission. We took a van and drove to the border with Poland to donate our clothes to the war refugees, especially garments for children and infants who will have Leopoli as their final destination. While coming back, we stopped at a refugee centre and brought men, women and children fleeing the conflict with us to Italy. I thank very much our collaborators for all what we achieved, all who participated in the mission by donating medicines and other first aid products».

Concrete and timely help.

«It was quite improvised, but I think that in the face of suffering, a person cannot remain indifferent. I like to think that as a company we do things in a factual way, in personal life as in business, without delegating to others, and that for this reason we are still here after 51 years. I strongly believe that the greatest project for the future is the attention and care for today».