We Visit the ILVE Factory in Venice!

As range cooker specialists occasionally we are invited to visit one of our suppliers and have a look around their factory to see how things are made and to meet some of the people we deal with over the phone on a daily basis. This is always a pleasure, but it is particularly delightful when that manufacturer is based near Venice.

ILVE factory visit

Commuting is so much nicer here, and the factory well presented and larger than we imagined

On this occasion it was two of our Directors who were lucky enough to travel to Italy, together with six other retailers and three members of the KitchenEx team, the UK distributor for ILVE. From the airport an exhilarating water taxi ride took everyone into the heart of the floating city and the hotel near to the famous Rialto bridge. Fortunately the autumn sunshine allowed for a very pleasant afternoon’s sight-seeing followed by a delightful meal near the ancient and fascinating fish market. The following morning a 40 minute bus trip took the group to the ILVE factory. Rangecookers director Andrew picks up the story…

A Memorable Journey

Situated in a nice residential town and next to a tractor showroom, the factory is a smart building, larger than we expected, rendered in a welcoming pale yellow. Once inside there is an impressive reception and showroom area displaying a good selection of the amazing variants the factory produces - built-in ovens of many types and styles as well as range cookers and hoods. Many of these variants would not appear in the UK ILVE brochure, which has been rationalised to be more in line with British tastes, so it is interesting to see what else this prolific manufacturer is capable of, as well as some of the more exotic hob variants which are available on the Roma and Milano models UK customers can order.

ILVE showroom

An eclectic showroom indicates the breadth of the ILVE product range, and this is just a glimpse of the full offering

After a quick espresso coffee the group move into the factory itself - a steel working area where raw sheet steel is laser cut, press-formed and processed by men and oddly forlorn-looking robots ready for finishing stages which are actually done at an external facility about 25km away. Painting and plating are messy processes best done away from populated areas, but as we move into the warehouse area we see the finished parts stored in an extensive facility which would horrify most UK manufacturers, where Just-in-time production dictates that minimal stocks are produced only when needed. No such efficiencies exist here, though, and the towering racks are heaving with panels, doors, shelves, knob, handles and all the components necessary to build whatever the factory is called upon to build. Whilst we are marvelling at this Aladdin’s cave an old gentleman wanders into the warehouse and greets everyone individually - one of the patriarchs of this family firm who still comes into the factory every day despite, or perhaps because of his nine decades of involvement with this very family-focused business. Moving through to the assembly plant we take the opportunity to grab a few control knobs from the racks (having been invited to by our guide Antonio) which are useful reference samples for our showroom.

ILVE stock

An insane amount of parts are stored to allow the factory to build whatever customers around the world might desire

Established Ways Combined With a Modern Outlook

The first thing that strikes one about this large space in the availability of natural light from the full length roof-lights, which adds to the air of clean efficiency and avoids that feeling of troglodyte existence which many factories can suffer from. We move down a tidy production line of white 90cm models destined, we are told, for the Australian market where white seems to be very popular. A truly global brand, this is one important factor which allows ILVE to indulge its - in a modern manufacturing sense - somewhat old-fashioned overstocked ways whilst still being a very modern manufacturer. On this line we take note of one of ILVE’s defining details - the gas burners and the pipework and components which serve them. The quality of these gas burners really is second to none, and they have been tested to ensure that they can burn for many hours without deterioration of the flame. Solid brass gas rings help this along, and it all helps to remind us why this premium brand still commands so much respect around the world as a cooking brand with some serious credentials. The last man on the line thoroughly tests all the electrical systems on each cooker, including ILVE’s unique E3 system, which controls the oven electronically up to an impressive and very pizza-friendly 300°C.

ILVE assembly line

A spacious and remarkably light environment makes the working day that much more pleasant for the ILVE workforce

ILVE burners

Deliberately over-engineered compared to most, ILVE gas burners really are top-notch and one of the brand’s defining features

A brief look inside the testing laboratory allows us a sneak peek at a couple of developments to the product range which are in the pipeline. Soft-close drawer mechanisms and next-generation gas burner prototypes which adhere to new EU energy regulations - an ever-present factor whichever market you are in. Meat probes are also on the horizon for ILVE ranges, and we see this system being fully tested.

ILVE Testing

Finally we are shown the boxed products in warehouse bays labeled for countries all around the world. Ironically the UK bay happens to be fairly empty, and our host jokingly encourages us to do something about it! We are happy to reassure him of our willingness to comply. ILVE may be a brand fairly new to the UK (it was until recently sold under the Britannia name), but it is quickly becoming one the British consumer is turning to. Current developments aside, these excellent cooking appliances may not have changed much over the last 25 years, but there is a very good reason for that, which is that ILVE have a formula which continues to work. Solid range cookers and ovens which look great and work brilliantly well. Rangecookers.co.uk intends to remain one of the main partners in ensuring this historic brand gets the market presence it thoroughly deserves, and we recommend you take a closer look and make a worthy investment.

ILVE Ultimo ILVE Moderna ILVE Roma ILVE Milano
ILVE Ultimo ILVE Moderna ILVE Roma ILVE Milano
from £2395 from £2395 from £2495 from £2495

*Prices correct at time of publication

You will find the full selection of entry-level Ultimo and Moderna ranges on rangecookers.co.uk, plus the premium Roma and Milano models, with matching hoods and splashbacks. The 2016 ILVE brochure also features the distinctive heritage-style Majestic collection, which will be added the the website soon. In the meantime, call our team on 01244 402975 to discuss the details or request the full brochure.

Venice sunset