archive / reportage / info





soap factory / Genova / 1873 - 1989 / 2006, 2007


A soap and candles factory - known as Fabbrica Candele Steariche, Sapone e Acido Solforico L. Bottaro - was established here in 1873 by a group of entrepreneurs (E. Piaggio, L. Bottaro and P. Pastorino). Together with two other relevant national player in the soap sector, Stearinerie Lanza from Turin and Fabbrica Candele di Mira from Venice, the Genova-based company gave birth to Mira Lanza in 1924. The new firm accounted more than 50% of the Italian soap market, employing about 1400 people in five plants. A significant improvement took place in the 1930s, during which the Genova factory was further enlarged, updated and partially automatized. In 1938 Mira Lanza launched its first synthetic detergent Miral, paving then the way to modern washing powders. In the postwar period the company's efforts were mainly concentrated both in R&D and marketing activities. Several new detergents began to populate Italian homes during the economic miralce: Nix, Neptun, Lip, Kop and Ava are just some of them. Mass-advertising played a key-role in such a development, such as the famous series of collectible cards ("figurine" Mira Lanza) and the evening tv-ad Carosello. In late 1950s the entire production was concentrated in the two largest factories, i.e. Genova (liquid soap, toilette soap, toothpaste) and Mira (powders). In 1968 Mira Lanza was the largest soap and detergent manufacturer in Italy, controlling 26% of the market - the remaining 74% was occupied by foreign companies and smaller Italian firms. In the early 1970s the company was sold to Bonomi financial holding. Even if new lines were launched, such as home cleaning products, Mira Lanza begun to loose ground due to the lack of a serious industrial development plan. The situation worsen in 1984, after the takeover of core activities by Montedison group. Mira Lanza presence on the market decreased year after year, replaced by foreign multinational companies. One of these, Reckitt-Benckiser, acquired the remaining activities in 1989. Then the whole production was concentrated in the Mira plant, leaving out the old Genova factory, which was closed.