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The gold history of Bulgari
Rome (Adnkronos Multimedia) - Francesco Trapani, 47, son of Agostino Trapani and Lia Bulgari, has been at the helm of one of the most internationally prestigious producers of luxury goods for twenty years. And he makes no secret of the fact that he is very proud of the results achieved to date. When, at the age of only 27, Francesco Trapani became Bulgari's chief executive officer in 1984, the family firm were Italy's most famous goldsmiths, already known to top international customers, but certainly not to a wider public. The firm was founded in 1884 by Sotirio Bulgari, and grew thanks to the work of his sons, Costantino and Giorgio, who in 1905 opened the store in Via Condotti which is still the company's symbol today. The 1970s saw the first, tentative, moves towards international markets, with the opening of the stores in New York, Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo. Then came the big leap forward, which in twenty years saw the business completely transformed, as it was launched on the world market. Today, Bulgari has 180 stores, with a turnover in 2003 of around 760 million euros.
Did this move involve risks, Mr Trapani?
"Huge risks," replied Bulgary's MD. "Above all, in terms of image. From being simple craftsmen, we transformed ourselves into a business making inroads into international markets: This could have damaged our prestige, as we became better known but with a tarnished image. What happened, though, was the exact opposite: we are now better known and our excellent image has remained intact. The second risk was of a financial nature: expanding onto foreign markets required important investments that could not be met entirely by the family. This is why we turned to the market, and in 1995 were listed on the Milan stock exchange, with extremely flattering results".
What markets did you target?
"While not forgetting our presence in Europe and the United States, we above all focussed on Asia. We opened stores in Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong and Singapore, and the initial results were very encouraging, allowing us to re-invest in new and increasingly successful commercial initiatives. Today we are present all over the world, and this means we can consolidate our position as one of the world leaders in the luxury goods market".
What strategies did you adopt to achieve these results?
"In order to maintain our brand image we preferred to adopt a unified business strategy on an international scale, making only small changes in function of the specific target markets. We started out with one-brand shops for jewellery and watches and only subsequently did we widen our scope, focusing on leather goods, glasses, perfumes and accessories, also investing in business initiatives best suited to the individual markets".
How big a part has product innovation played in your growth?
"A large part. Over the last two years we have begun to implement a complete stylistic makeover, with the aim of achieving a completely revised, wider and more articulated product range by the end of 2005".
What short-term goals have you set yourselves?
"First of all, as I said, that of offering our clientele an innovative range of constantly-improving products, also in order to maintain double-figure growth rates over the coming years. It will not be easy, because international market dynamics are not always linear and some problems linked to the changes may also cause difficulties in the future. But I am confident that we have what it takes to come out on top".
Lungotevere Marzio, 11