ONE-TO-ONE: MARCOLIN USA’S FABRIZIO GAMBERINI

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Candid conversations between VCPN’s editors and leading optical executives about their product strategies.

Fabrizio Gamberini, CEO, Marcolin USA, is a native Italian who relocated to the U.S. in 1995 to work at Hewlett Packard USA, where he held various marketing and sales management positions. He subsequently was employed by Nike Inc. as General Manager for Retail (Nike stores) in the Americas as well as the Americas General Manager for Football (soccer). He has been head of the Americas operations for Marcolin for the past six years. Here, Fabrizio talks about how the acquisition of Viva International Group has enhanced Marcolin.

BETH SCHLAU: How has the acquisition of Viva affected your overall business in the U.S.?

FABRIZIO GAMBERINI: The Viva acquisition was an important game changer in the U.S. Many of the ECPs in the U.S. are looking to do business with fewer manufacturers and the joining of two companies meets that need. Marcolin now has a prominent position in the eyewear industry with a much larger brand portfolio-the company has more than 30 brands, from Tom Ford to GUESS, from Balenciaga to Gant, and many others. Our customers currently have the opportunity to choose from fashion, volume, and premium brands, and to customize a buying strategy that responds to their individual market needs. Marcolin is a growing company that is committed to redefining the marketplace. We are now in the final phase of the integration that will also bring new technology to the distribution center in NJ, formerly the Viva headquarters, with a large investment.

Beth: Will you be focusing on expanding U.S. brands with this acquisition?

Fabrizio: The Viva acquisition was made for a few different, but very strategic reasons. Among them is the new Marcolin network and its broader number of point-of-sales (P-O-S) that the combination of the two companies can provide. We currently have one of the largest directly employed sales forces across the U.S. market, with more than210 sales consultants dedicated to the optical channel alone. Now many of the U.S. brands previously sold by Marcolin with a smaller sales force, like Timberland and Kenneth Cole, will benefit by gaining a larger presence, while already broadly distributed brands like GUESS and Candie’s will continue their strong market share, thus leveraging on the awareness of our portfolio.

Beth: What has been the reaction of ECPs to the acquisition of Viva?

Fabrizio: We continue to receive favorable responses about our achievements and the fast execution of the integration. A more concrete approval of the integration is the record-level presence at Vision Expo West and at other various events we are hosting throughout the country, such as Silmo events. At these 28 meetings across the U.S., we present our sun collections six to nine months in advance. For ECPs, understanding what is going to be hot the following summer is a major competitive advantage because they are able to book and sell the lines in advance.

Beth: Fashion has always been a large part of Marcolin’s portfolio. Will technology play a larger role in the future?

Fabrizio: We are all about fashion and innovation. For example, we are introducing Eco acetate from Mazzucchelli in the Tom Ford collection, polarized lenses in many of our collections, and Zeiss lenses in our new Ermenegildo Zegna collection. In addition, in the patented Denimized execution in Diesel, denim is embedded into the eyewear. Innovation remains an integral part of our brands’ DNA.

Beth: Will you be expanding your sunwear business-in both the plano and Rx channels?

Fabrizio: Marcolin is strong on the sun side (e.g., Tom Ford, Swarovski, Diesel, Balenciaga, Cavalli, Kenneth Cole, and Timberland) while the former Viva was very robust in its ophthalmic business. It is the perfect combination for what we need strategically. Our job is now to merge the two strengths and to increase the sun presence in some of the former Viva brands (GUESS, Gant, Harley-Davidson, etc.), and to continue to enhance the ophthalmic business with the brands from Marcolin.

Beth: Any thoughts on delving into sports-performance sunwear?

Fabrizio: We are always looking for the right opportunity. The lifestyle or sportswear segment is a very crowded but very interesting one. Our innovation skills can be easily applied there, too. We are always chatting with the major players and discussing potential partnerships.

Beth: Do you plan on launching any new brands in the near future?

Fabrizio: Marcolin has been consistently adding new brands and acquisitions in the last few years: from Diesel to Swarovski to Balenciaga, and most recently, Ermenegildo Zegna and Emilio Pucci. We will continue to be driven for growth while working on new segments of the business where we can apply our passion for product and innovation.

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