Sanremo Coffee Machines are built by hand in Treviso, North East Italy. Unlike many of the big names, Sanremo s.r.l. and Sanremo UK Ltd are not large corporate entities, still very much family owned and managed businesses. Sanremo s.r.l. have been trading for over 40 years and, although they will never be the biggest in numbers, they have a burning ambition to become known as the best coffee machine makers in the world.
As with all successful business stories, Sanremo Coffee Machines involved a bit of chance, getting off my arse and grafting hard to turn an opportunity into something that worked. In the early 2000’s I was a one-man-band, a small start-up operating out of the South West with a young family to support.
I first encountered Sanremo Coffee Machines through a larger than life Italian coffee supplier called Antonio di Rienzo[i]. Antonio was operating in Yorkshire and his warmth, passion and enthusiasm for his coffee machines instantly resonated with me. We fast became friends and I was eager to buy from him. However, as he was heading towards retirement he opted instead to put me in direct contact with Sanremo Coffee Machines in Italy.
This seemed like a great opportunity for me with huge potential but as with any business decision, it was vital that both sides understood what the other can offer. Luckily Sanremo were a young company, keen to push forward into new markets and finding the right people to work with was critical to developing their long-term success.
From my side, I wanted to be sure that if I invested in the development of what was essentially a new, unknown brand in the UK market, that the people I was teaming up with were strongly founded and had aligned ambitions.
Carlo de Sordi and his father Federico, the people at the head of the family wouldn’t even consider working with me unless I visited their new premises in Treviso, Italy. So, with nothing but aspiration and my trusty old suit (how the coffee industry’s uniform has changed!) I rolled up my sleeves and set my sights for northern Italy.
The Adventure Began…
I booked a £42 return ticket courtesy of trusty airline, Ryan Air, drove up to Stanstead airport and slept in the back of my estate car overnight. I was almost broke and while uncertain about whether I could make my business succeed, it felt right and I was brimming with energy to push forward with this exciting opportunity.
Upon meeting Carlo and the de Sordi family and being shown their new factory, my enthusiasm leapt ten-fold. When I returned home I was determined to deliver against the distribution agreement we had made. I knew it was going to be a challenge and with a young family to support my cash flow was limited to say the least but I’ve never looked back!
I committed the remainder of my start up budget and paid pro-forma for six brand-new Sanremo coffee machines. The plan was to attend a couple of trade shows in the South West and push into the market with Sanremo’s stand-out design and high build standard, which has always been central to their coffee machines. I attended my first trade show in early February 2001 and took four orders in the first morning. The orders would continue to come over the following days, weeks and months. It’s safe to say I was relieved and optimistic about the future ahead. What’s more, Carlo de Sordi and Sanremo Coffee Machines were excited too!
I was still a one-man band. Now a single dad who had developed an equal burning passion to make Sanremo’s coffee machines a success. As the years passed by and my relationship with the de Sordi family developed, they would eventually ask me to become their sole UK distributor. While from an outsider’s view, this seemed like a no-brainer, managing my responsibilities as a single-parent and raising two sons made this a tricky proposal to accept straight away. Nevertheless, I kept on bringing in orders and Carlo and the de Sordi family were patiently persistent so in 2005 I agreed to become the official UK distributor of Sanremo Coffee Machines. Sanremo UK was born.
Building and Developing Sanremo UK
The years rolled on, the team grew and in 2008, Sanremo UK won a bid to sponsor the UK Barista Championship. This was going to be a great opportunity to bring our machines to an even bigger audience. While we had the confidence of Sanremo Coffee Machines in Italy, we certainly didn’t have surplus capital. As the 2008 financial crisis drove a downturn in coffee machine sales and we creaked under a 28% hit on the pound, the accountants were beginning to panic about the commitment I had made.
Despite always valuing professional advice, I knew that Sanremo UK was founded on a calculated risk, so I wasn’t about to be frightened into playing it safe by the bean counters. We rolled the dice, stayed focused and with some additional fiscal flexibility during this rocky period from Sanremo Italy (thank you Federico and Carlo!), the rest is history! As a team, Sanremo UK pulled out all the stops at the Barista Championships – looking after competitors, making sure we contributed to the successful growth of the competition. We presented our machines to an audience who appreciated and understood the integrity of the engineering and design behind Sanremo coffee machines.
The sponsorship was an unquestionable success. It saw Sanremo UK transform from being almost unknown to becoming a significant player in the UK coffee machine market. We were small enough to remain agile, but able to challenge the industry leaders at every step due to the pioneering machine range behind us and our team’s unrelenting commitment to providing excellent service to our customers.
Sanremo machines have gone from one strength to the next and we are proud to now have what we believe is the strongest range in the market – from cutting edge innovation in the Opera and Cafe Racer, to rock solid entry models like the Zoe and the Verona. Put to the test against any machines in their class, we are confident they outperform in almost every sense.
"We at Sanremo UK share Sanremo Italy’s burning ambition to be the best and I am confident in thinking we have the best team of individuals in the UK industry – forever building on our strengths and successes, keen to build new relationships with anyone who wants to make their business the best it can be. We are proud to feel we have made a contribution to the success of several great coffee roasters and companies, growing together and forming fantastic long-term relationships. With offices in London and Devon, our welcoming team are dedicated in helping our customers succeed, whether you’re a ‘one-man-band’ or a group looking for cutting-edge coffee tech, we may well have the solution for you. The team and I look forward to meeting you to find that out!"
Andrew Tucker – Managing Director, Sanremo UK