Interview with Clabo Group CEO Pierluigi Bocchini

Pierluigi Bocchini has been with the Clabo Group since 1996. In those 18+ years, he’s seen the industry change in many ways. From the stylistic differences in front-of-the-house equipment like refrigerated display cabinets to the food products displayed within them, 2015 is a different world.

We had a chance to sit down with him and discuss his role as President and CEO, as well as the direction of the company. Here’s how it went:

Q: Why has your U.S. brand changed from OSCARTIELLE to ORION by Clabo?

Bocchini: Clabo’s products have been sold in the U.S. marketplace for over 20 years under the name Oscartielle. The migration to the new brand ORION by Clabo started in 2014 with the goal of becoming consistent with the company’s global brand ORION.

Q: Tell us about Clabo Spa as a global company and the direction it is heading.

Bocchini: Our Group has been designing and manufacturing display cases for foodservice applications in Italy for over 50 years. We are known worldwide for the beautiful and high quality equipment that we bring to the market. We are the leader for product design and quality.

We continue to grow both organically and through acquisitions, and in fact, we have just completed the listing on the Italian stock exchange to fund our growth plans. This is a milestone for the Group and it will help us expand our footprint in the key overseas markets like North America, Latin American, and the Far East thorough our subsidiaries in those markets: Clabo USA, Clabo Brazil, and Clabo China.

Q: What is the role of Clabo USA?

Bocchini: The U.S. is a huge marketplace when it comes to foodservice. Not only it is an attractive market in terms of volume but also in terms of new concepts being created and introduced. A lot of global foodservice trends start in the U.S. Our solid track record in this market, together with the strong team that we have and the relationships that our rep groups are bringing to the table, is helping us capitalize on these opportunities.

Q: Style is important, but how does style translate to foodservice display cases?

Bocchini: Style is always important since a lot of the information we get is through our eyes. In foodservice this is particularly true with the food itself and the front-of-the-house décor, furniture, lighting, etc. Display cases are the units of foodservice equipment for which style is most relevant. Operators at all levels – not only high end – realize how important it is to showcase their culinary creations in order to maximize their in-store sales. They also want to seamlessly integrate showcases with the overall design, look, and feel they are trying to create. That is where Clabo and its product lines really shine. We help our clients showcase their culinary creation in a variety of design options. Thus our motto: Showcase your good taste.

Q: As far as trends go, is there anything that you would like to point out?

From a product design perspective, we are constantly brainstorming with our internal design and R&D team as well as outside architects, interior, and industrial designers to come up with beautiful designs that will be trendsetters. Right now, jewelry-style, square lines are very in. They have been for the last few years in Europe and the trend has now crossed the Atlantic. Our jewelry-style LaRossa has quickly established itself as the best-seller in our line up, and we are adding more solutions – including a grab & go version – to meet the designer’s needs.

The future in terms of design trends is hard to predict. There are so many variables and so many aesthetical trends in interior design that eventually make it to the foodservice world. Our goal is to be ahead of the curve when it comes to product design and be actually setting those trends. That is why we are constantly working on new styles of all types, shapes and forms. The very best ones actually make it to the marketplace.

Q: We know the number one goal for any foodservice operator is to sell more products. How can the right display contribute to sales?

Bocchini: No one leaves the house in the morning having decided they are going to buy ice cream, a pastry, or a specialty drink. A lot of the purchases of the products that are displayed in our cases are impulse buys. From a product design perspective, we pay a lot of attention to customer behavior.

First, display cases need to be beautiful and integrate seamlessly with the concept’s interior design. That is why having different styles to choose from is important. Second, the product has to be very visible both from outside the store (to bring people in) and also from every angle in the store. This is why it is important to have side glasses; glass shelves to make the product more visible, almost floating inside the case; stainless steel interiors to give it a clean look and make the product stand out; and good lighting is important too. Not only should we keep adults in mind when designing display cases but also the children who often ask their parents for treats. We need to make sure that either our decks are sitting low enough for them to see the product, colors, etc., or we angle the decks towards them so they can see it from a distance or up close.

We also have found out that framing is important when designing cases, even in minimalistic environments. A frame around a square case will help a customer’s visual attention focus on what is in the case and ultimately help increase those sales. We didn’t invent this concept, though. That is why paintings and photographs are normally shown inside frames. We just applied that principle to display cases. Is it possible to easily see food products from a standard, American-style dipping cabinet?

Lastly, the components used are also important to preserve the integrity of the product as well as the integrity of the case. That is why we use only double pane glasses to avoid condensation, as well as heating elements.

All of the above variables have a huge impact on product sales. This is the message that we are constantly trying to convey.

See the ORION by Clabo Display Cases in Action.

To see the full lineup of ORION by Clabo display cases and how each model works within a given space, download the ORION by Clabo Designer Book.

OTL Designer Book Foodservice Display Case