Costamagna, President of Federlavaggi: “The sector has restarted with good results compared to forecasts”
All our associates have resumed operations at full capacity. Incentives for purchases could help encourage higher demand and 2021 may well prove to be a good year
Interview with MARCO COSTAMAGNA, President of Federlavaggi
The car wash plant construction sector saw companies restart with good results compared to initial forecasts based on the impact of lockdown measures to block the spread of coronavirus. There are even expectations that 2021 will be a “positive” year for the sector in the light of increased use of cars, possible incentives to purchase cars and more streamlined and less stringent access to cash flow. This is the overview outlined by the President of Federlavaggi – Federation of automotive washing companies, Marco Costamagna, four months after the resumption of operations on a national scale.
“As of 4 May, we all managed to get going again”, said Costamagna, while recalling that in April, before the official restart of operations, the federation, together with a group of professionals, drew up a series of reference guidelines on a national scale to allow car wash centres to re-open with the aim of creating a clearly defined system for the restart. The President of Federlavaggi indicated that the sector, as regards plant construction companies, got going again by resuming already planned projects brought to a standstill during the lockdown period. “We had to recover all the systems sold over time and this undoubtedly helped us. Once already planned systems are completed, we must glean a better understanding of how the situation will evolve and whether the market will be keen to install new plant,” Costamagna explained.
In this context, further stimulus to development in the sector may arrive through investment opportunities and various forms of cash flow injected into the market planned for the future. “However, our associates have resumed at full capacity”, added Costamagna, who nevertheless suggests that it will still be necessary to wait for the data of the last half-year 2020 to verify any slowdowns compared to the same period 2019. “Plant is not planned overnight and consequently there has still been plenty of work to be done in recent months to help us ward off these setbacks,” Costamagna pointed out. The President of Federlavaggi added that associate members are currently not facing “major difficulties” despite the downturns posted. The current situation is seeing more widespread use of cars and, consequently, greater care in terms of vehicle cleaning by end users is conceivable.
Costamagna suggests that the “downside” takes the shape of the “smart working” situation, for example, with reduced use of company and hire cars. “However, these dynamics are difficult to predict”, the President of Federlavaggi acknowledged. In any case, 2021 promises well in terms of forecasts – especially if end users, compatibly with their economic possibilities, realise that “general cleaning of cars or commercial vehicles is increasingly necessary,” especially in the event if higher usage.
A positive impact on the sector may also derive from possible purchasing incentives for new cars, Costamagna remarked, bearing in mind that people who buy new cars tend to look after them better and this “could stimulate development and increased demand” in the car wash sector. “Consequently, our car washes will – not the least for competitive reasons – have an incentive to upgrade their plant installations, especially if access to cash flow is more streamlined and less stringent,” said the President of Federlavaggi. “We are convinced that 2021 could well be a good year, not stratospheric but still not bad for our companies,” Costamagna concluded.
Based on estimates provided by Federlavaggi, there are about 12,500 sector operators throughout Italy with an estimated total of 25,000 plant systems installed, including portals and self-service centres. The sector employs about 35,000 people as regards car washes, while at least 2,500 people are employed in construction companies.