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CALZEDONIA, WINNING FRANCHISING IN THE WORLD’S SHOPPING STREETS
Sandro Veronesi’s successful business parable can be summarized with a paradox: he succeeded in enforcing a business model showing off that which, by definition, is usually hidden under clothes. The idea was conceived more than twenty years ago, in 1986, when Veronesi bet on the stocking and bathing suit sales business for women, men and children under the brand name “Calzedonia”. He then successfully expanded business to lingerie, thanks to the "Intimissimi" and "Tezenis" brands.
President, what was your initial goal? How did you think you could win over consumers ready to abandon their traditional buying channels?
I believed that the most efficient way to sell these products was through retail in franchise stores. And that intuition was successful since we now have about 2,500 exclusive brand stores throughout the world.
Did the distribution model play a decisive role in confirming Calzedonia Group products in the world?
The capillary franchising sales network was only one of the foundations on which our philosophy has always been based. This feature alone would not have let us gain such a large market share without our competitive quality/price ratio, wide retail assortment and attentive style and design which has always been accompanied by the use of innovative materials and fabrics.
Thus you have always focused on style content. I’ll ask you again: did the choice of large shopping street locations initially help the novelty of your proposal?
Attempting to anticipate styles and trends with our collections would not have given us the desired results without our extreme focus on store image and without our strategic positioning in leading city centres. At the same time, our communications strategy, based on impressive media campaigns and top notch photographers and models, has given us wide visibility with the largest public possible.
A distribution giant emerged from this mix, improving performance year after year. Ten years ago, in 1998, you posted 77 million Euro in sales. How did the Calzedonia Group do in 2007?
Compared to 2006 we posted +17% growth driving sales from 661 to over 772 million Euro. Practically, our sales have grown ten-fold in less than ten years. Specifically, the Calzedonia brand brought in about 294 million while Intimissimi and Tezenis posted 355 and 124 million Euro respectively.
A large share of these sales come from abroad. Where are your points of sale out of Italy?
As for the sales network, Calzedonia has passed the 1,100 store record: in addition to the 650 stores in Italy, we have stores in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Mexico, Hungary, Russia, Austria, Slovenia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The same can be said for Intimissimi points of sale which, however, have the same number of stores in Italy, 550, as it does abroad. In increasing order – Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Poland, Mexico, Russia, Hungary, Cyprus, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Turkey, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. Since 2005, the Intimissimi brand has invaded the United States with more than 240 points of sale, thanks to a partnership with “Victoria’s Secret” exclusive brand licensee for the American market. We entered the UK in the spring of 2006 with two shops in the heart of London.
And what about Tezenis, the latest brand launched in 2003 following the original (Calzedonia) and Intimissimi, launched in 1996?
Our cosmopolitan business unit par excellence, with lingerie and homewear lines for women, men and children, has a continually expanding distribution network: more than 130 points of sale in Italy, you can also find Tezenis shops in Portugal, the Czech Republic, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, the UK, Greece and Russia. In September 2007 we opened our first flagship store in Oxford Circus in London, one of the world’s leading shopping streets.