By Claire Reilly

It was all about Italian food and Italian appliances at the opening of Smeg Australia's new showroom in Melbourne last night. The event was attended by a range of industry and trade heavyweights who all had a chance to get up close with Smeg's products and see each of the brand's distinctive ranges, including its FAB refrigerators, and a selection of cooktops, ovens and rangehoods.

Speaking about the new showroom, which is located in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, Smeg MD Andrew Cronin said it was a real sign of strength from the company.

"It's a big step for us," said Cronin. "We've had a showroom in Melbourne for more than 20 years, but it was in an outer location. So it was a big investment getting the right floor space in the right area. For us, the investment in Melbourne and Victoria is important. Per capita, it's the most vibrant market in Australia so we wish to invest in it.

"I also think it will be very well received. We've had a soft opening for more than a month now and it's going very well. The retailers enjoy the fact that we don't sell from here – it's purely an advisory centre.

“Retailers can send their customers here with the absolute belief that it's a selection centre and that's all it is. Then we'll send them back to the retailer and hopefully they'll have a number of things ticked so they can make the money!"

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At the launch, guests had the opportunity to walk through the new showroom, which has been organised into themed sections that showcase Smeg's individual ranges; from the candy-striped retro FAB fridges and colourful Mark Newson cooktops that fill out the front window, to Smeg's new sink collection that adorns one wall of the space.

Outside the showroom, the Italian pedigree of the company was on full display, with racing-red Ducati motorbikes positioned next to matching Smeg refrigerators, and zebra-like rows of alternating black and white fridges and ovens.

Retail partners also had the opportunity to sample a range of freshly-prepared Italian foods, or cut into the giant wheel of parma cheese that Smeg Italy CEO Vittorio Bertazzoni personally flew over from his farm in Italy.

The large-scale event was clearly a show of strength from Smeg, a company that Cronin said had seen strong growth over the past year since its split from Hagemeyer Brands Australia, despite the difficult market.

"This year has gone very well," he said. "We're in the late teens in terms of growth, and in a flat market, that's amazing. We receive a lot of positivity and support from Smeg in Europe, and we've got a full dedication to our customers and the market."

A look inside the new Smeg showroom in Collingwood.