BMF Young Merchant Trip to Milan, Italy

by James Spillane, BMF Training & Development Manager
20 July 2017

BMF Young Merchant trip to Mapei in MilanOn 29 June to 2 July, 13 BMF Young Merchants were hosted by Mapei group out in Milan to celebrate their 80th Birthday.

Day one saw an excellent welcome by Mapei in their headquarters in Milan. The group were welcomed by Roberto Vigo (Export Manager) and Birgit Brink from Marketing. Next followed a guided tour around Mapei Laboratories by Gino Kuijpers, Coatings Product Manager speaking to experts in each product range along the way. Products are examined and fine-tuned by state of the art machinery and high power microscopes to constantly improve existing products and innovate new ones. This is evident by the fact they have 9000 employees, of which 12% work in R&D. After this we visited Mapei’s production plant in Mediglia. This was a vast site which could have warranted the title of Mapei Town. More than 25,000 tons of products are shipped each day, 4.5 million tons per year. Here the group saw first-hand the production of cement, coatings, paint, adhesives and much more. Figure 1 YM Group at Mapei HQ.

Before finishing for the day we stopped off at 4BILD builders merchants at Cusano Milanino. The group had an opportunity to see how an Italian Builders Merchants premises and yard operated. We sat through a presentation from the owner of this particular merchant who explained 4BILD’s structure, something quite unique to Italy currently but common-place in the UK. 4BILD comprises of 11 franchises that pool together their buying power for more favourable prices on materials – very similar to Buying Group activity here at home but something that is unnatural for Italy whose merchants are owned by traditional family units who operate in an insular manner, wary of their competitors. 4BILD have taken the plunge and reaped the rewards having taken on board the ethos of “we are stronger together”.

In the evening we ate at Guyot restaurant which specialises in Milanese Risotto which was thoroughly enjoyed by all of the group.  

On the second day, we had an early start venturing out to Vila Del Balbianello on Lake Como. As the coach crawled through the hills to our destination we were treated to staggering views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Once we arrived at the Villa, which has seen films such as James Bond – Casino Royale and Star Wars filmed in its’ grounds, the group were in awe at the beauty of the place. Interestingly, Mapei were responsible for the coatings restoration on the building.

Following this, the coach dropped us on in Milan City Centre for free time where most of the group ate in the restaurants nestled between the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Duomo Cathedral. Dinner was served in the top floor of on the Galleria where we had cocktails made to order and a five course Italian feast.

A special thanks should be extended to Dave Jordan (Business Development Manager), Stefanie Bennett (Marketing Manager) and Phil Breakspear (Managing Director) of Mapei UK for pulling together a great trip in such a meticulous and enjoyable way. A great trip that will last long in the memory of the BMF Young Merchants who attended.