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Forza Italia: The transition from bricks and mortar to online

Sergio Alderuccio

Forza Italia is a retailer of Italian sporting, automotive and novelty clothing and I’ve been working with the business’ owner, Joseph Gerace, since 2018.

Setting things in place for the future

When I first started working with Joseph and Forza Italia, the first thing we did was develop a strategic plan to set a clear direction for the business, and at the beginning of each year we review and recalibrate the plan as required.

In executing our strategic plan, we ensure we always work with data and facts, rather than make emotive decisions. In our time working together, Joseph has become more conscious of margins and capitalising on opportunities to maximise margins by value adding and increasing efficiencies. And by changing his base factors, he’s seen a positive change in his business.

Through working with Joseph, I’ve gained a better understanding of his strengths and passions, in particular creativity, pursuing new opportunities and marketing. We’ve capitalised on Joseph’s strengths, while l’ve implemented a structure incorporating systems and follow up procedures.

With the structure and systems in place, we’ve then focussed on ensuring we have the right people in the right roles. I’ve supported Joseph as he’s progressively built a strong team both internally and externally, which has enabled him to gradually hand over much of the day-to-day operations and allowed him to focus on higher value tasks and growing the business.

Adapting to the COVID challenge

In late 2019, Forza Italia relocated to a new store on Lygon Street in Carlton – Melbourne’s Little Italy – but by the end of the first quarter of 2020, it had become clear that the business’ traditional retail model had to be revised.

We quickly realised that Forza Italia’s future laid online, which fortunately was an area that Joseph was already passionate about and eager to push.

Actions included: 

  • Upgrading the website (which continues to evolve) and significantly increasing marketing on social media
  • Introducing new products and creating more value-adding offerings such as picture framing, design and customised team wear
  • Revising job roles to better meet the needs of the new business model

Results:

  • Secured Victorian distribution rights to a major international team wear supplier
  • Pursued new market segments and formed a number of new alliances with various sporting clubs, motoring enthusiast groups and an entertainment group
  • Received orders from across Australia and even as far away as Canada.
  • Is on track to grow by 100% in 2021

While Forza Italia’s retail store will remain, going forward it will act more as a showroom to support the business’ thriving online activity. The store is currently undergoing a transformation and will reopen prior to Christmas. 

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