In the beginning was the denim. The pantalones vaqueros, by the brand Lois, which Maria and Firmino Gaudêncio imported from Valencia, were selling faster than hot buns. Why not make jeans here? – asked the parents of Paulo Ferreira, 54, 2nd generation manager and former footballer that led a successful tactical turnaround at a company that started off with a small manufacturing line of jeans, evolving then to the classic and ceremony suits
Lança, the name of the factory founded in 1973, was also the brand of jeans made in Covilhã by the Gaudêncio clan, a project that prospered for over twelve years, until the excessive competition in the denim section led them to correct their trajectory.
“In denim, we were limited to the internal market. The decision to manufacture suits, made in the late 80s, opened the door for exports, which currently account for 95% of our sales”, explains Paulo Ferreira, the oldest (and only male) of Maria and Firmino’s four children.
Former professional footballer – sharing the field with Rui Barros and César Brito, he played left-back (“The right foot was only there for balance…”) in Sporting da Covilhã, which rose to the Portuguese top-tier division –, Paulo prematurely gave up on football to help his parents with the company, where he didn’t take long to leave a mark since one year into his tenure an assembly line for jackets was being built.
The turn towards suits was nothing less than the beginning of a permanent revolution in a company that insists on always adjusting to the market’s new conditions and new demands.
At the beginning of the century, they looked at their client portfolio and noticed that it consisted of a few big distributors. It was when they realized how much of a risk that posed to the company. “We didn’t want to depend on a reduced amount of clients, so we set to conquer new clients, small and medium-sized”, details Paulo Ferreira, Confecções Lança general manager.
The client portfolio diversification was developed alongside an increase in the value chain, based on the improvement of the product’s quality, service and flexibility, which enables the company to carry out 10% of its sales with bespoke suits only.
“Fast and on-time delivery are the most important factors in establishing customer loyalty and a credible reputation for our company”, states the former left-back of Sporting da Covilhã.
In order to remain competitive, Confecções Lança invests every year from 5% up to 10% of its turnover. Last year’s investment programme, which had a budget of 550 thousand euro, contemplated computing, machinery (“we can never stop modernizing our manufacturing structure”) and improvement of work conditions. “The keys to success? The quality of the product, being reliable, fast response, on-time delivery and flexibility”, concludes Paulo Ferreira.
Sítio da Cruzinha
6201- 908 Vales do Rio
What does it make? Blazers, trousers, men’s suits and uniforms (for both genders) Business volume 6.3 million euro Clients Paul Smith, Printemps, Hawes & Curtis, etc Productive capacity 300 suits per day Main markets France, United Kingdom, Spain and Scandinavia Biggest chokepoint Not having room to expand the current facilities, which have a total covered area of 4 thousand m2 Employees 225