De Rigo Vision Strategies

On today’s optical scene De Rigo Vision is one of the few big players that continues to pursue growth independently. CEO Michele Aracri tells us why.

What plus points have helped you maintain your leadership?
We are a leading group at world level for the design, manufacture and distribution of high-end optical frames and sunglasses, but what identifies us and makes us different is the fact that we are a family-run multinational. We are passionate and pragmatic men and women who take Italian eyewear style and tradition all over the world and put our experience at the service of each country. In a global scenario characterized by big mergers, industrial groups and investment funds, being the only Italian family-run company certainly makes us unique.
Another plus is the attention we have always paid to research, design and product quality. The strength of our strategy is, in fact, knowing how to adapt to specific needs and trends in various countries, to customize offers to suit the characteristics of individual consumers.
That is why the design office at our HQ in Longarone works in tandem with its counterparts in Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and, since this year thanks to the acquisition of REM, also in Los Angeles. At the distribution level, group expansion has been organically integrated with the retail and wholesale businesses over the years, which has enabled us to achieve high levels of market penetration.

How is international distribution organized?
Our policy is to be directly in control of distribution in strategic markets through our subsidiaries. This presence is necessary in order to meet the tastes of local customers and make the right investments in marketing. In other countries we are present through trusted partners, independent distributors with whom we have been working for a long time.
Thanks to this strategy we have been able to create a widespread wholesale network that sells our products to a total of 50,000 customers in over 80 countries through 16 subsidiaries and more than 100 independent distributors.
The group also has an important presence in the retail sector thanks to the wholly-owned chains General Optica (Spain), Mais Optica (Portugal), Opmar Optik (Turkey) and subsidiary Boots Opticians (UK), for a total of about 1,000 outlets.

In recent months your focus has been on strengthening your house brands: can you explain the reasons behind this strategy? What were the results and what direction are your house brands taking?
The strengthening of the house brands is not a strategy of recent months; it has always been an essential part of the De Rigo strategy. Our aim from now through 2020 is to maintain the house brand business at a minimum of 40% and all the company divisions involved are committed to this.
With our house brands – Police, Lozza, Sting – we convey the reference worlds and lifestyles through stylish products featuring technological innovation.

Have there been any changes on the licenses scene?
The 2016 acquisition of Rem Eyewear in the United States and the consequent birth of De Rigo Rem expanded the group’s brand portfolio with the addition of such prestigious American brands as Converse, Lucky Brand and John Varvatos. Our objective for 2017-2018 is to develop these new brands and introduce them to new markets.
De Rigo is fortunate to have an extensive and varied brand portfolio that completely and strategically covers different segments of the market and different geographical areas. For this reason, each licensed brand has a specific and very precise positioning, which benefits our clients because there is no overlapping.
Specifically, Chopard, Carolina Herrera, Furla, Trussardi and Escada are brands with which we have long-term licensing contracts that enable long-term investments and strategies.

What are the forecasts for growth in 2017?
In the first quarter of 2017 we were in line with projections and we expect to close the year with LFL organic growth. Moreover, the consolidation of REM Eyewear will also bring growth; in 2016 only six months were consolidated.
We want to strengthen business in the markets where we already have a presence and those in which we entered only recently, like Australia, where we opened a subsidiary in August 2016.
As far as the USA is concerned, we have just returned from New York City where we took part in Vision Expo East. It was our first participation with the new company, De Rigo Rem, and we must say that the market’s reaction made us very confident.
At this particular time customers are looking for alternatives to big groups and we believe that De Rigo is the right company for helping opticians to grow.