From her seat as non-executive director of Safilo Group, Luisa Deplazes de Andrade Delgado became CEO of Safilo Group and Safilo SpA in October 2013. She has held various management positions in Europe at Procter & Gamble and SAP A.G. prior to joining Safilo. Here, Luisa talks about how diversification and differentiation play an important role in Safilo’s product positioning.
BETH SCHLAU: What is Safilo’s brand strategy in the U.S.?
LUISA DELGADO: We have a very clear and defined strategy for the U.S., which includes our proprietary brand portfolio playing a large role. It’s all about accelerating the growth and the relevance of our proprietary brands, including Carrera, Smith, and Polaroid.
BETH: You relaunched Carrera a few years ago; is this just a refreshment of the line?
LUISA: No, it is much more than that. We decided to go back to the brand’s core essence but to make it more contemporary in a way that would also be appealing to new groups, such as millennials. We are focusing on the Champion family of sunglasses which we’ve “remastered” to offer a more contemporary and wearable fit. In addition, we have just introduced for the first time in the U.S. a new collection of Carrera ophthalmic frames that are designed in Italy, as well as kids’ sunglasses.
BETH: In terms of its global presence, what role is Safilo playing?
LUISA: The “new” Safilo wants to be global but in a way that is locally relevant. And if we can leverage the global force, the corporate capability that we have, and then tie it in to a program with local endorsers using the campaign, then you get the best of both worlds.
BETH: In other words, you’re listening more to the consumers and your customers?
LUISA: Yes. Listen and learn is a blueprint of how we work. On one hand, we listen and learn from our customers-opticians, department stores-and on the other, we do the same directly with consumers.
BETH: Will you be staying with this focus on sports performance with the increased global presence of Smith?
LUISA: Our goal is to evolve Smith from its strong North American snow sports position into a global eyewear brand present in both the sports-performance and outdoor-inspired lifestyle categories-we’re saying “from the mountain to the street.” We want to build on the brand’s core strengths and add important new ones-expanding into hiking, fishing and hunting, for example-in order to reach Smith’s full potential on a global scale.
BETH: Are you concentrating more on house brands in the near future given the tenuousness of licensed brands?
LUISA: While fashion luxury remains important for us, we are now looking at a multi-dimensional strategy. We are very focused on the brand building of our proprietary brands. Our goal is diversification and differentiation. The way we design, the way we produce, and the way we
distribute has to be brand unique. Artisanship and manufacturing is done differently according to each brand’s particular segment. This is what we excel in.
BETH: What role does Polaroid play in your product mix?
LUISA: We like to say that Polaroid has a democratic design philosophy. It has a good design, a functional benefit (glare protection), and an affordable price. We consider it part of the so-called “mass cool segment” which is huge and growing very fast.
BETH: How do you look at fashion sunwear in terms of your portfolio and how important is it to you?
LUISA: It’s hugely important. It’s our core. It’s our history. The significant thing is to maintain the history and to diversify at the same time. We are clearly committed. This is where we put a lot of focus in terms of excellence of execution. Fendi is a new license, and Jimmy Choo and Céline are the rockets of growth.
BETH: Is Rx sunwear growing? Does that impact on your relationship with ECPs?
LUISA: I think our first focus with the ECPs is to work with them and understand the challenge of selling Rx sun, because we believe, and all our consumer studies would say, there’s huge potential in sun Rx. It’s a consumer need. It’s an unmet need in many ways and we would like to play in there with the ECPs more and also understand what the barriers are. We don’t pretend to be the experts on how to do it, but we know that it needs to get done and we would like, together with ECPs, to build expertise on how to do it in an efficient and effective way.
BETH: How is your newly launched KIDS BY SAFILO brand positioned?
LUISA: We developed it together with the Italian Society of Pediatric Ophthalmologists and in compliance with the guidelines of the World Society of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. And, according to people who have been at Safilo for 45 years, it’s probably the most advanced technologic eyewear that we have ever designed and made. It shows this dedication to the consumer, to the needs of 1.6 billion children worldwide. We involved children as well to address comfort and materials, which are 100% bio-based. What really makes the difference in design is the length, the fit, and the safety.