It is the oldest weapon factory in the world and one of the most known Italian company. After 15 generations, continues to grow, with a blend of technological innovation, productive efficiency, craftsmanship, business acumen, the ability to open up to new markets
The year is 1525, with the outcome of the battle of Pavia, the battle of the century, being decided by a formidable piece of innovation: the arquebus. The French cavalry, which felt it was invincible, was in fact repelled by the firearms of 1,500 Spanish soldiers carrying arquebuses, led by general Ferrante d’Avalos. This episode announced the arrival of fire arms to the battle field. Then in 1526, with the understanding that war would never be the same, the Most Serene Republic of Venice asked maestro Bartolomeo Beretta da Gardone for 185 arquebus barrels. He quickly delivered the arms to the Venice arsenal and received 296 ducats.
That is how the glorious history of the oldest arms producer, Beretta, began. The company is still active today, and with almost five centuries having gone by, it has passed through the hands of 15 generations. The company from Brescia has continued, in this time, to offer technological innovation, efficiency, craftsmanship, business acumen and the ability to open up to new markets. These are the characteristics which have made Beretta one of the most significant Italian companies in the world.
Pietro Gussalli Beretta, 53 years old, who in the last few months took over from his father, Ugo, as the President and Ceo of Beretta Holding, is keeping things moving down the same path. The group is on a global scale and following a number of prestigious strategic acquisitions (including that of Benelli, Franchi, Uberti, Sako, Tikka, Stoeger, Steiner, Burris) it is now in control of 26 companies across the world, employing 3,000 people and with a turnover of around 650 million euros. Around 80 million of this is generated by opto-electronics, a very high-tech enterprise.
Though small, the portion for clothing, technical accessories and leisure is also significant. Of great prestige is the collection of designed rifles, including the wonderful 486 double barrel by Marc Newson. This said, 94% of the group’s turnover comes from the sale of firearms and relevant accessories outside of Italy. We therefore see why the word globalisation is the one which Pietro Gussalli Beretta - who has a degree in economics, and a healthy portfolio of corporate positions - cares most about. «With Italy united, my grandparents’ generation began to look to Europe, then with my father we went overseas, now the job of myself and my brother (President and Ceo of the Pietro Beretta arms factory, Ed.) is to look to the rest of the world. Of course, the American market remains fundamental and still makes up for more than 50%: Beretta has supplied more than one million items, in particular 92Fs semi-automatic pistols, for the American army and police force. There are other emerging areas, however, such as Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East. It is fundamental that our product maintains a good reputation everywhere, so we can continue to compete in calls for tender».
Thus Pietro Gussalli Beretta has to travel to from one country and one market to another. He does not mind this at all, because it allows him to enjoy his passion for hunting, art and lyrical works, visiting the most famous museums and theatres. He does not forget Beretta’s mission, with the President having a clear objective: «We are a family company, well rooted in its past, but with a real will to be modern and ready for future challenges, through further acquisitions and expansion, always marrying craftsmanship and tradition with research, technology, and innovation». Mastro Bartolomeo would agree and would be very proud of his descendants.