CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed exclusively Niccolò Ricci, the CEO of family owned and run luxury menswear house of Stefano Ricci based in Florence.
How did your company perform in 2017 and what are your expectations for the full year 2018?
2017 results confirm the return to international pre-crisis levels of the previous two years, in particular, as regards to the Russian market and an upturn in the Far East. This trend has further been confirmed in the first two quarters of 2018.
What are your best performing markets?
First and foremost, there’s China, where my father opened our very first boutique, in Shanghai, in 1993, and where we are continuing to invest, as demonstrated by the new openings in Hong Kong and Sanya. Then there’s the CIS area, from Russia to the latest openings, including that in Tbilisi.
And finally, North America, where in addition to New York and Beverly Hills, we have two boutiques in Las Vegas and an upcoming opening in Miami.
How would you define the DNA of the Stefano Ricci brand? To what extent does your brand relate to lifestyle and to creating experiences?
Our products are 100% Made in Italy, making use of exclusive manufacturing techniques, fabrics and leathers. The style is elegant, with many precious details, and is addressed to the man who buys for his own personal pleasure. It was our best customers who asked us to broaden our portfolio to include lifestyle products. For now, we have developed products that range from formal attire to sportswear, and from the SR HOME collection aimed at interior design projects, to accessories. Upon entering our boutiques, the customer lives a unique experience: he can sit back on a crocodile leather chair as he is advised by our directors and a personal tailor. Once we have established a direct relationship, we like to invite our best customers to some of our international events, so as to engender a sense of belonging to the STEFANO RICCI world.
What is the profile of the most loyal Stefano Ricci customer?
He is a man who already has everything; he does not enter a boutique because he needs a suit or a briefcase. When he makes a purchase, he seeks the highest quality workmanship, and takes the time to define his own personal style. We are able to send one of our tailors to this type of client, anywhere in the world.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a family owned brand?
The advantage is fairly straightforward: we hold our “board meetings” at home over dinner, so that we can rapidly make important decisions. The disadvantage is that each father-child relationship suffers inevitably from the strain of the generational turnover. But I have to say, due to our distribution of responsibility, our mix already has a positive balance in itself.
Tell us more about the manufacturing of your products. Do you manufacture in-house?
60% of the production process takes place in Florence. At our headquarters, we produce ties, shirts and leather goods (also in crocodile), as well as jewellery and silverware, and all in line with the very best craftsmanship. Not far from our headquarters we have our tailors’ shop where over 30 master tailors work. The rest of our rigorously Italian production takes place in highly specialised workshops that operate lines dedicated exclusively to us.
Is a luxury heritage also about story telling? Do you believe in educating your consumers, especially in emerging markets? Tell us more.
I think it is our duty to contribute to educating our customers’ taste. It is not all about making an immediate sale. Just think of the new generations, such as the Millennials or those who are born today and will be known by another name in the future. Educating people’s taste and their appreciation for quality is mutually beneficial. It allows us to meet the requests of this new market, and at the same time it allows these young customers to know what they are buying, whether a product respects the environment and staff working conditions, whether it is made using natural fibres and non-polluting dyes.
What is your approach to retail? (wholesale versus mono-brand boutique). Do you operate directly or do you franchise your international stores?
Stefano Ricci has over 60 mono-brand boutiques in major international capitals, as well as 19 shop-in-shops in leading department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Harrods. We own half of these shops and run the others through our partners.
Are there any specific markets you are particularly targeting?
New markets. By that I don’t mean emerging markets, but those that are still opening up to luxury. As we have done in Shanghai, which we entered before there was a real luxury market, and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, where we were absolute pioneers.
What is your approach to digital marketing and e-commerce?
We pay a lot of attention to e-commerce. It opens up a world of new customers, increases our brand’s visibility on a global scale, and facilitates the purchase of specific products. But I also believe that buying in a boutique – the emotion of feeling a fabric, seeing the colours and designs in a more natural manner – will remain central to the luxury selling experience.
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