Interview with Corsino Corsini, Chairman, Fiori Dolci Senesi, Italy

A weakness for sweets is something most of us suffer from more or less ardently. There is an Italian family named Corsini, deeply embedded in the picturesque community of Siena in Tuscany that caters to this weakness of ours with its mouth-watering, almond-based confectionary specialities “Fiori Dolci Senesi”. The Corsini’s story really begins with the story of another family business: In 1827, the Fiore family was running its Fiore Pharmacy in Siena and started as a side business the production of high quality sweets for its customers. For over a century the Fiore family ran this operation until in 1947 it joined forces with the entrepreneurial Corsini family who were at the time food traders. The Corsinis initially began their involvement by becoming shareholders to the Fiore’s business but soon moved on to taking over the company entirely in 1951. The old Fiore Pharmacy is still run by its namesake family, while the confectionary brand “Fiori Dolci Senesi” has meanwhile thrived under the management of Carlo Corsini who was put in charge in 1984. Soon his son Corsino and daughter Anna Maria took over the company and diversified its product range into a wide and colourful variety of confectionary products. Tharawat magazine spoke to Chairman Corsino Corsini and found out more about a family’s passion for food and about the undeniable importance of almonds.

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How did your involvement in the family business start?

I started working with my family in the early 1970‘s during my studies at the scientific college in Siena. From an early age I witnessed how our Fiori Dolci Senesi products were made. After I completed my college education, I went on to study at the University of Florence, from where I graduated in economics and trade. Following my degree, I did not directly go back to Fiori Dolci Senesi, but decided to join a knitwear company, in which my family was a shareholder. However, in the 90s, I returned to Siena to start working in the family business with my father and later with my sister. Today, I am the Chairman of the Board of Fiori Dolci Senesi, and the ownership of the company is divided between my mother, my sister and myself.

Your family took over the business from the Fiore family in the 1950ies. How did this come about?

In the 1930‘s my family mainly traded in foods. Amongst the goods they traded was sugar, which is of course the basic component in the production of all sweets. This is how our relationship with the Fiore family began: My family supplied sugar to the Fiore family, who managed the Fiore Pharmacy and who produced sweets as a secondary activity. My family then started collaborating more closely with them; first we became their shareholders and later we took over the company as well as some other operations. Today, the Fiore family still owns the Fiore Pharmacy and we remain very close with them.

On the Sweet Side of Family Business and The Importance of Almonds
Image courtesy of Fiori Dolci Senesi

What was your strategy to internationalise your brand?

The future and expansion of Fiori Dolci Senesi was and is directly linked with the consumption of almonds, as they are the main ingredient of our sweets. Almonds are a worldwide favourite amongst the dried fruits for their excellent taste as well as for their healthy properties. Therefore, our products, with our traditional high quality, have found a worldwide distribution quite easily. We mainly work with agents, who represent and sell our products internationally.

How does your family integrate the next generation into the family business?

Passion for food is something that comes naturally to everyone and there is no need to create an artificial bond like with other products. Of course, with food products, you have to remain attentive to so many details that may impact the quality of the product. It is not something mechanic but something that asks a great personal involvement. It needs a lot of constant love and attention. I think that our family has this love for food and for our products but that does not mean that family members end up working in the company: My children currently have their own careers; I have a daughter, who is a doctor, and my son, who is in his late thirties, graduated from Bocconi and currently works for Rothschild in London. Event though in the past, the company passed from the Fiore family to my family, I am a little doubtful if our next generation wants to have a strong involvement in the business. Our business units are very independent when it comes to the handling of their own structures and the family is not necessarily involved on the operational level. I think that in the next generation, the company will most probably go forward with the help of non-family members. I think that this will not be a problem, as our values are strongly embedded in how the company is run and in the quality of the products themselves. Maybe there will be a later generation that would like to find careers in our family business.

On the Sweet Side of Family Business and The Importance of Almonds
Image courtesy of Fiori Dolci Senesi

What does the future hold for Fiori Dolci Senesi?

In recent years, the consumption of almonds has noticeably increased. Currently, the main consumer of almonds is Germany. However, the two emerging countries, China and India, are slowly catching up and, if they continue at this pace, will be the biggest consumers of almonds worldwide, very soon. In view of this development, I think that the future of sweets based on almonds is set to be a very interesting one. I found this development very interesting, when I first heard of it and I believe it could be a great opportunity for us.

Tharawat Magazine, Issue 18, 2013