How has BVLGARI performed throughout the various pandemic phases? – general term, not specific financials.
We have followed the East to West virus deadly journey shutting down our stores and manufactures one after the other and obviously undergoing financial stress especially over Q2 when Asia was just starting getting our of it and Americas diving into it. However and despite losing significant sales to 2019 record year we posted an enviable profitability thanks to our very solid business model combined with cost savings across the board.
I’m very happy as we didn’t lay off any colleague because of the pandemic, suffered no human loss and eventually invested millions of dollars manufacturing sanitizing gels out of our Fragrance Manufacture in Lodi and gifting them to the Italian, Swiss and British governments and then creating the Bvlgari VirusFree Fund funding research and scholarship at Spallanzani, Oxford and Rockfeller universities and institutes.
With the entire world facing major hardships, what has been your approach in motivating and energising your team?
I believe that our war against COVID with the gels and then the VirusFree fund has earned us an amazing reputation internally as much as externally. Our colleagues have been very proud to work for a generous and responsible company spending millions at the worst time to contribute to help its community, medical staff first. And that in parallel we continued our high profile donation program to Save the Children adding health course to the educational programs as well as started new mecenate projects in the field of arts such as the Torlonia Marbles collection, an unprecedented collection of imperial statues covering 500 years of Greek and Roman imperial powers and never ever restored nor introduced to the public. And of course our no lay off commitment has been highly valued.
You have been strengthening your position among the finest haute joaillerie maisons in the world, delivering spectacular collections, all carefully anchored by your exceptional craftsmanship and in keeping with the DNA of the brand. Tell us more.
Bvlgari has two “dictators”: Jewelry and Roma. Roma is probably the richest architectural and artistic city in the world and has influenced Bvlgari silversmith and goldsmiths since our Founder, Sotirio Bulgari settled in Roma. From Greek origins he has accomplished in Jewelry what the Roman Empire accomplished culturally by integrating Egyptian, Persian, Phoenician, Greek and Etruscan influences and blending them with later Rinascimental and Baroque styles to eventually give birth to a unique expression of jewelry: bold, colorful, daring, joyful, volumetric.
Totally departing from the more classical French school more based on diamonds and delicate shapes without obviously forgetting diamonds which remains the symbol of High Jewelry. We have stuck to this amazing DNA trying to evolve it over the decades injecting new creativity such as pop arts, nature, baroque art rather than celebrations symbols.
Bvlgari made a huge statement with the opening of a majestic flagship to in Paris at Place Vendome. You also conducted renovations of your boutiques worldwide. How important is physical / brick&mortar retail?
We have about 225 directly owned stores and Vendôme is the largest and most impressive consistently with Paris status as worldwide capital of High Jewelry with most Brands from French origin. In that highly competitive context we wanted to make a very strong statement of our expertise and creativity, “bringing Roma to Paris” with a permanent collection of about 150 High Jewelry and 50 High End and Jewelry watches.
We lost bring Roma to Shanghai, NYC etc…and the brick and mortar remains together with our events the main experiential meeting place with our clients even though often they start their journey browsing on our website or Instagram. The Omnichannel journey provides them with more touch points and informations as well as the opportunity to book an appointment on line and occasionally to buy online. Online is growing faster than brick and mortars but most online clients visit the store before making their online order or want II delivered to the store. That’s why we try inasmuch as possible to create a seamless emotional experience integrating online and offline into an Omni-channel journey.
Bvlgari has become an undisputed authority in luxury watches with world premiers, but also a leading voice when it comes to trendsetting – for example, identifying the ideal new exhibition / presentation method, ex LVMH Watches Week or Geneva Watch Days. What do you think the future is post pandemic?
Covid19 has accelerated underlying trends and post pandemics will reflect this fast transformation with Phygital events substituting presential, avatars and NFT becoming new brand vehicles and commercial assets, stores becoming more and more a social and cultural center than a traditional store and our sales associates more and more personal stylists and cultural advisors. It’s a brand new world and we are very excited to pioneer it.
You recently launched an exceptional accessories collection accessories collection with several ‘must-have’ bags, overcoming the sometimes misconceived perception of such bags by major luxury jewellery companies?
AmorRoma is indeed a very creative and unexpected bags collections with both new interpretations of the Serpenti icon with new shapes such as the Hobo or the Jewelry Boxes Mini and XXS as well as new executions of the Serpenti Forever with the laser sun treatment for instance. And also a beautiful and contemporary collection of Tote bags inspired by the Bvlgari logo discreetly and infinitely embossing the high quality black and white calf.
Bvlgari bags are different not only because of the obsessive jeweler craftsmanship and quality but also for its metalworks and colored skins and motives departing from traditional bag brands and mirroring the jewelry brand colorful DNA and goldsmith mastery. They are considered as daily-chic as much as evening-musts and have been one of the most impressive leather goods success stories in the last 10 years.
7. This new launch comes after highly successful collaborations with AMBUSH and Mary Katranzou. Do you plan future such capsules / collaborations?
Roma became the longest lasting empire on earth by integrating many cultures as mentioned earlier. The same applies to our creativity. Besides our Roman inspiration we permanently look after external talents and viewpoints to collaborate and enrich our own creativity, remaining consistent with our icons but reinventing them through their own eyes, souls and vision. It’s very true for leather goods and accessories but also with watches with for instance the Tadao Ando capsule on Octo Finissimo.
8. Earlier this year you confirmed the eight BVLGARI HOTEL, this time in your home in Rome. This comes after the highly anticipated opening of Bvlgari Hotel Paris which is slated for end of this year. What has been the key to the success of your diversification into hotels? – at least three other major international luxury fashion brands made similar unsuccessful venture. How do you continue to ensure consistency both in service and product?
I believe that our Bvlgari Hotels concept is unique as much as consistent with our Jewelry obsessive strive for superlative quality and clients relationships. We want our hotels to be few, small in terms of number of keys, big when it comes to the Spa or the pool, magnificent when it comes to the food and warm and friendly when it comes to the relations with our clients while always being utterly sophisticated.
It’s a model you can hardly replicate as its putting the few clients at the center of a unique jeweler hospitality. And de facto we are insofar Revpar leaders in all cities where we operate, Bvlgari Hotel Milano included since we added last spring an amazing 270 sqm Bvlgari Suite connecting with 2 Junior Suite and a beautiful terrace. Consistently is ensured by our direct strict control of the operation from the architecture, interior design, operational procedures, clienteling development and staff training not to mention the hiring of the best Hotels General Managers in the world.
9. Bvlgari recently launched a new fragrance and has taken an innovative approach by hosting an event in Tuscany?
Man Terrae is the 4th element of the Man earthy saga already including fire, air and wood with Man in Black, Man Glacial Essence and Man Wood Essence. It’s unique as perfectly fitting with the modern and responsible man looking for a balance between urban and natural life as much as sustainability and harmony. Besides the essences are of superior quality and the line unique in its concept and philosophy.
10. How important is the role of a brand ambassador? Is there any criteria in your choice?
The first criteria is a genuine understanding and attraction for Bvlgari. The second is the willingness to go the extra mile, above and beyond commercial contracts, to passionately express and share this attraction to millions of potential clients and followers. The third one is mid term commitment as demonstrated with Lily Aldridge, Bella Hadid, Zendaya, Nick Bateman or Solange Smith
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