RadiciGroup’s Success Story in China

In our column dedicated to interviews with leading figures from the Italian and European business world abroad, today we introduce Alberto Sessolo, Country Manager for China of RadiciGroup High Performance Polymers.

Alberto Sessolo, graduated in Business Economics at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, began his career in a company specialized in the production of machinery for the steel industry. His first significant experience abroad was with the Swedish multinational group Assa Abloy, where he worked in China from 2012 to 2014. This first contact with the Chinese market was crucial for his career, paving the way for further professional opportunities in the country.

In 2015 he joined the Radici Group as Operations Manager for the Suzhou plant, later becoming General Manager in January 2018.

RadiciGroup, founded in 1986 by Gianni Radici, is a global leader in the production of chemical intermediates, polyamide polymers and advanced textile solutions. Headquartered in Bergamo, the company has approximately 3,000 employees and a turnover of 1,069 million euros in 2023, operating in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

In his current role, Alberto Sessolo leads the group’s expansion and consolidation in the Chinese market, promoting innovation and ensuring that operations are aligned with Radici Group’s global quality and sustainability standards. In particular, his responsibilities include overseeing day-to-day operations, developing new business opportunities, and managing relationships with customers and local authorities.

Alberto Sessolo – Country Manager for China of RadiciGroup SpA

In this interview, Alberto tells us about his professional experience in China, the challenges faced and the opportunities seized, and how RadiciGroup is adapting and thriving in this dynamic and ever-changing market. His experience is an example of how Italian skills can be enhanced in international contexts, contributing to the success of global companies like RadiciGroup.

How would you describe RadiciGroup’s current presence in China in terms of production facilities, offices and local collaborations?

“RadiciGroup, with its High Performance Polymers business area, has been present in China since 2006 with its own production unit in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. In 2023, it inaugurated its new company-owned plant. We have a commercial presence in Shanghai, Changsha and Guangzhou and we collaborate with various partners in different areas of the country. Today, engineering plastics production is the core business of RadiciGroup’s presence in China, almost twenty years of work whose balance sheet is certainly positive.”

What are the main industrial sectors in which RadiciGroup operates in China, and which products or solutions are most in demand?

«Looking at sales volumes, 60% of our materials are used for applications in the Automotive sector, both for traditional motor vehicles (ICE), and especially for vehicles belonging to the world of electric vehicles (NEVs, BEV and PHEV). We are then present in the markets for E/E, Appliances, Consumer and Industrial Goods applications».

What were the main challenges that RadiciGroup faced in entering the Chinese market, and how did you overcome them?

“RadiciGroup High Performance Polymers arrived in China in 2006 to support its global customers with production facilities in the country: it is necessary to be there to intercept growth in sectors that require short and reactive production chains and thus be strategic partners of customers in the development of innovative solutions. In the following years, together with growth linked to these global customers, the company began to approach potential local customers by expanding its sales and technical support network until it became a well-known reality and included in all the major OEMs, especially in the Automotive sector. Obviously, the initial cultural difference combined with strong competition in the outlet markets were the major difficulties encountered, which have been overcome even if considerable competition persists on the market”.

How does RadiciGroup manage sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in its operations in China?

“Sustainability is a fundamental area in our business. We have products that use recycled raw materials (both post-industrial and post-consumer) and bio-based materials. Furthermore, when designing our new plant we took this important issue into account by installing a 1.45MW photovoltaic system, a system to eliminate the discharge of water used in production and one for the recovery of rainwater, just to name a few. This has allowed us to obtain LEED Gold certification, an international standard for the development of high-performance green buildings. In the area of ​​corporate social responsibility, the Group is obviously committed to operating according to principles and policies that have a positive impact on society and the environment. In particular, we pay particular attention to the well-being of our employees with supplementary benefits from the point of view of corporate welfare”.

What growth opportunities do you see for RadiciGroup in the Chinese market over the next five years, and what strategies do you intend to adopt to seize them?

“China certainly remains and will remain a very important market for our Group. The investment made in Suzhou goes in this direction, that of guaranteeing the possibility of continuous growth, something that was now difficult in the old headquarters. The competition is very fierce but the opportunities are there and to seize them we will continue to invest in Research and Development and in communication activities. In parallel we will carry out commercial expansion activities in the ASEAN area which currently represents only a small portion of our business in South-East Asia”.

What advice would you give to other Italian companies or managers who are considering expanding into China, based on your experience?

“We believe that currently a decision to expand in China through new investments must be calibrated not only by referring to the situation of its own outlet markets but must take into account the broader current and future geopolitical context. As mentioned, China remains and will remain a very large market for many years, but at the same time decisions that involve significant investments must be carefully considered”.

By: Attorney Carlo Diego D’Andrea, Vice President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China