The omens weren't good for €3.6bn distributor Esprinet as it started this year.
The Vimercate, Italy-based firm's supplier of 20 years for its sports technology product line, Nilox, went bankrupt at the end of 2018.
Then, in its death throes, the supplier sued Esprinet for €55m, in an effort to recover some of its debts.
Esprinet's EBIT fell by 33 per cent in its FY2018. And it took a hit of €17.3m in product losses and written-off credit notes.
Half a year on, Esprinet's CEO Alesandro Cattani (pictured) has told CPI that the firm has recovered from an "unfortunate" start to the year.
"We've basically fixed everything. It is unfortunate we had this issue, but we closed the relationship, we wrote off everything that had to be written off, and we changed the management team in charge of that specific business area," he said.
Cattani confirmed that the previous mangers of the Nilox brand have all left the business.
Learning from the debacle, he said he has made a deliberate choice to now use multiple suppliers for the Nilox brand and other product lines.
"We have already found two suppliers to change procedures, strengthening the controls in that area," he said.
"And for different product lines we also have different factories. We're selling electric mobility devices, electrical scooters and balance scooters etc.
"Before, we had a central purchasing entity that was acting as a sort of aggregator of the different factories. Now we're buying directly from different suppliers. It's definitely a lesson we've learned. It cost a lot, but that lesson will stay with us."
Cattani said that there was still some "small clean-up" to do.
Not least that the €55m lawsuit with its former supplier is still rumbling on.
"Well, it is Italy. And in Italy these things tend to last forever," Cattani laughed.
"I believe one of the reasons why the overall economy has a drag in terms of growth is because our legal system is not one of the best.
"Anyhow, we have reviewed the case, which we believe is completely senseless. We do not believe there's any risk around the claim. It will probably be over the next years that the judges will make a decision."
However, Cattani stressed that Esprinet is "back in business", and even considering an acquisition in Spain or Portugal.
"We will probably be up and running again at full speed this month. We want to focus more internally in strengthening our position in Spain, especially in the advanced solution business," he said.
"And we want to grow in Portugal. In both these areas we want to grow organically, but we are also open to a small acquisition to speed up the growth in that specific geography or product area."
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