Emiliana De Rigo, Vice Chairman of De Rigo Vision S.p.A in conversation with VisionPlus magazine where she explains how a family run company is now one of the most popular names in the eyewear industry!
De Rigo is a family run company with a new generation joining in to make it better than before. Emiliana De Rigo, Vice Chairman of De Rigo Vision S.p.A, tells how not all diamonds shine from the start. Some are polished hard for years and then they outshine the others. De Rigo has been associated with big brands like Police, Chopard, Dunhill, Lozza and more.
The Group’s products are sold in around 80 countries worldwide, through 16 commercial branches, 5 retail divisions and 100 independent distributors. De Rigo takes Italy’s eyewear tradition and style all over the world thanks to the work of 3 thousand employees and the creativity of 19 designers.
VisionPlus in conversation with Emiliana De Rigo on how De Rigo came into existence and the vision of De Rigo in the Middle East.
VisionPlus (VP): They say two brothers began in a barn and became global. Tell us something about De Rigo’s start.
Emiliana De Rigo (EDR): My husband first ventured into eyewear business as a partner financing a small enterprise. He then built his first building, which is still standing: the legendary villa in Pozzale di Cadore, which was rather impractical but architecturally very beautiful. At that time there were fifteen of us, and we worked on contract for three big customers: one in Germany, another in the United States, and a third in Italy. We made glasses referred to as ‘featherweight’ because they were so light, which were a great success and got us off to a good start.
We used the new factory to make Police glasses starting in 1983 and we launched Sting in Pozzale in 1985.
VP: How was it entering a market with such steady competition? Any major challenges faced by De Rigo?
EDR: It wasn’t easy at first, because De Rigo was competing with well-established companies like Luxottica, Safilo and Lozza. In 1983 De Rigo purchased Lozza, Italy’s oldest eyewear brand, founded in 1878. At that time opticians from all over Italy came to Lozza to buy the parts, and the brand was at the peak of its success. I would never have thought that Lozza would be ours one day…
VP: Which of these brands has been the major selling point for De Rigo?
EDR: The boom years came from the ’80s until ‘95. It was a time of exponential growth, but then, of course, other competitors came along. Lozza joined Police and Sting: three brands we still strongly believe in, in which we continue to invest and which represent our strong point. Investments and efforts which, of course, we also put into the brands we own licenses for, which are equally important to us. The company has grown rapidly since the ’80s, opening its first production plant in Longarone in ’93, then expanding it, and opening numerous international branches, first in Europe and then in the rest of the world.
VP: How did you venture into the Middle East market?
EDR: On the Middle East Side we are moving quite well, we opened our subsidiary in Dubai last year and we just signed a new distribution agreement for an important market like Saudi Arabia, where we feel we can grow quite well with the wide portfolio of brands that we have.
VP: What are the challenges faced in the Middle East market? Elaborate individually.
EDR: The Middle East is not having a great momentum due to the reduction of the touristic flow especially from Russia and China, plus the actual political crisis of Qatar is definitely not helping the market overall. We believe that 2020 Expo in Dubai, plus all the new recent retail developments, will help to reinvigorate the enthusiasm and the economy of the entire area and will help to attract back even more tourists and consumers in the area.
VP: How has the growth been in the Middle East market?
EDR: The growth has been in line with our forecasts and there are some markets that are exceeding our expectations but we know that the potential for growth can be much higher for all brands, and not only with the high-end brands. As a matter of fact, we have seen very strong interest for some of our house brands especially for Police and Lozza due to our ability of crafting great product at a very attractive price which is a very interesting trend especially in markets like Dubai and Saudi.
VP: What is your vision for these regions?
EDR: Although we will continue to see some strong fluctuations during the next 12-24 months, emerging markets will continue to show a higher potential especially when compared with the more developed markets.
On our side we will continue to have a direct presence in these markets since our portfolio of bands is in line with the expectations of the vast majority of the consumers in this area and we are confident that our distribution ability will be reinforced by additional partnerships with local retailers.