Middle East

How eyeglass giant Safiro transformed the Middle East business model

Please give us an overview of Safiro’s business.
Safilo Group established the first eyewear and optical frame manufacturing facility in Italy in 1878. Today, we are one of the leading players in the design, manufacture and distribution of sunglasses, optical frames and sports glasses.

Our brand portfolio includes Safiro’s iconic eyewear brands such as Carrera, Polaroid and Smith, as well as BOSS, Carolina Herrera, David Beckham, Dsquared2, Isabel Marant, Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade New York, Levi’s and Marc. Consists of licensed brands. Jacobs, Misoni, Moschino, Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armor.

Safilo has been in the region for decades with its brand in collaboration with local partners and retailers. In 2014, we localized our commercial hub for the Middle East in Dubai and opened a wholly owned subsidiary with a state-of-the-art showroom to reach our clients in the region and deliver all the latest products. collection.

Last year was a strong year for us in the region, not only in terms of numbers (top and bottom lines exceeded 2019), but also in terms of relationships and projects. For example, we introduced the special edition Carrera and Jimmy Choo Middle East Capsule Collection for Dubai. We have also begun a special collaboration with Carrera as the official eyewear partner for the 2022 1000 Miglia race in the United Arab Emirates.

Has your approach to business changed over the last 20 years of working in Dubai?
It’s been 22 years since I arrived in Dubai. This may seem like a cliché, but my approach has always been to act as a partner with the client. However, establishing a long-term partnership is less obvious, and successfully managing a 15-20 year relationship requires more than just “doing business.” Building a business together requires mutual respect and passion. For me, the ultimate result is actually looking back at the consequences of such a journey, both at the professional and individual levels.

How is the eyeglass distribution model evolving and where is it heading?
The eyewear industry is quite unique. We have two categories, sunglasses and optical frames. They look almost the same, but they are very different. Sunglasses not only work to protect against the sun, but are also fashion accessories driven by fashion trends, but optical frames come with more medical / technical services (eg eye exams and lens prescriptions). Obviously more functional. I remember that in the early days of the region, 80% of the market was driven by sunglasses that reflected the trends seen in the fashion industry, so there was a great deal of focus on newness and big brands.

In the sunglasses category, newness and big names are still very important. However, for the past few years, optical frames have been a growth-leading category. The focus on eye health and the generally accepted optical frame certainly gives this category a strong momentum.

Today, the region is undoubtedly an international leader in retail. Thanks to the investment by a local retail group, we have become one of the most beautiful optical stores in the world. Today, all major eyeglass and lens manufacturers are directly in Dubai with local offices and teams. It is clear that this has raised the bar for the industry as a whole and consumers are benefiting from it.

Consumers, especially the younger generation, are now moving to mid-priced products. Today, it’s important to provide a balanced product, and Safilo does it with brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Carrera, Levi’s and Under Armor.

Tell us about the Carrera collection recently created for Dubai.
Special Edition Carrera for Dubai is a very important project for me – it honors the city and people of Dubai. This is a project that we are very proud and honored to have launched in partnership with Dubai Tourism. This is a special edition collection featuring Safari 65, one of our iconic styles, with the co-branded Carrera of Dubai on the lenses and temples.

What role does e-commerce play in Safilo’s models?
When we talk about online sales, we mainly refer to sunglasses (although the online market for optical eyeglasses is growing). The problem is not “what if”, but the “how” to evolve retail proposals while integrating digital tools. Consumers will still pay a premium if physical retail products continue to be appropriate and offer valuable service offers. We need to evolve with an omni-channel approach. Digital tools help improve services and enable you to synergize with customers and consumers around the world, both online and offline.

What are the main goals you set this year?
2022 aims to celebrate an even stronger year with a focus on the Carrera and Polaroid collections, core licenses, and the launch of four new brands (Carolina Herrera, Under Armor, Dsquared2, Chiara Ferragni collections). .. We will continue to build optical products that provide an assortment of products that meet the needs of our customers. The main purpose is to support partners with a clear calendar of brand activation in the region, and to focus on service levels and after-sales. In 2022, we will increase the focus and investment on the new B2B online platform.

https://gulfbusiness.com/how-eyewear-major-safilo-has-transformed-its-middle-east-business-model/ How eyeglass giant Safiro transformed the Middle East business model

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