Marchon Eyewear:
portfolio adjustments for future growth

Interview of the Month
March 04, 2019

Marchon's President Nicola Zotta with Thomas Burkhardt, SVP Global Brands, Marketing & Design

An international player with a portfolio of brands that boasts some of the fashion industry’s favourite luxury brands including Chloé and Salvatore Ferragamo, Marchon’s latest ventures include new licences with Victoria Beckham and Liu Jo Uomo and a distribution agreement with iconic British company, Cutler and Gross.
Clodagh Norton met with Gabriele Bonapersona, Vice President, European Fashion & Lifestyle Brands and Thomas Burkhardt, Senior Vice President, Global Brands, Marketing & Design, Marchon, during MIDO 2019.

Q: The last 12 months have been a productive time at MARCHON – with new licences and distribution agreements. Is this a time of growth or a time of consolidation?

A: Burkhardt: Absolutely, this is a time of growth. It’s an exciting point of reference for Marchon. It is now a little over two and a half years since Nicola Zotta took on his current role as President of Marchon. Now we are seeing the fruits of the work that we have undertaken during this time and the repositioning of the portfolio.
2018 was a very successful year for us. It was our fastest growing year since 2014. But it’s not only that. We have seen strong top-line growth, gaining market share and I believe we are making the right moves in terms of our brand portfolio development, in terms of the quality of the design and in terms of our internal capabilities where we have been investing considerably in the last two and a half years. It is nice when all these elements work together successfully, and this has happened just a little earlier than we had anticipated.

\\ Luxury for the modern man: Liu Jo Uomo, SS19 collection - LJ120S

Q: Comment on the new licencing agreements - Liu Jo Uomo and Victoria Beckham. Explain how they will be established within the portfolio at a global level.

A: Burkhardt: Our priority is to have a world-class portfolio. Given our size, particularly in North America, it’s a balance between having brands that are right for the North American domestic market which still represents around 50% of our business.
We have worked consistently to assess the portfolio in the last two years, looking at which brands have a long term future with us and which brands we wanted to be sure to renew and these have included Karl Lagerfeld, Bebe and of course the long-term renewal with Calvin Klein, a core component in the Marchon portfolio.
For the new brands we have taken on, Victoria Beckham was strategic in the sense that we felt that the brand was just at the right point in its development. Victoria has been very successful in developing the brand in-house for some time and she is now showing, with new investors, a continuing strengthening and a very bright future. So we have partnered very much to take the eyewear collection she has built over the years to the next level. The development will continue to involve Victoria herself and our design team in Italy will work with her and her team in London. Victoria’s involvement in fashion, her relationships with the press and of course David Beckham’s fame – as well as the authentic way in which Victoria has a love for sunglasses herself – all these elements go hand in hand and mean that we will be able to develop this collection for all markets including the US; it’s a very exciting collaboration and we see big potential for sunglasses here, but also optical, which is where we can bring additional expertise.
Bonapersona: For the new Liu Jo Uomo licence, the focus is very much in Southern Europe. It is a brand that is developing strongly in all categories. We are starting with a collection that offers six styles for men, launching in Southern Europe (Italy and Spain) and we will expand into the whole region in the second part of the year.

\\ Liu Jo Uomo, SS19 collection - LJ702S

Q: Marchon also sees a new departure for the distribution of the iconic independent label Cutler and Gross – in the US? How has this come about and what do you believe is the value of this relationship?

A: Burkhardt: We have had personal relationships with Cutler and Gross for a number of years and this agreement allows us to bring opportunities together for both companies. Cutler and Gross wish to grow their business in North America and we have a market leading position there in terms of distribution capabilities.
This move will allow us to be involved in a segment in which we have not yet had a strong presence. We clearly see the high end market developing and in the US there is an increase in recognition of craftsmanship, originality and brand heritage.
This distribution agreement will also include the new Paul Smith Collections launched by Cutler and Gross at MIDO 2019.

\\ Liu Jo Uomo, SS19 collection - LJ2713

Q: What are the most noticeable changes you have seen in the business environment in the last 10 years?

A: Burkhardt: Just as in other fashion sectors, the market is developing in an hourglass shape, at the low and high end. Consumers are looking for attractive, high value product at the premium entry tier – this continues to be a hot segment.
The middle price point is more difficult at this time but we are not so exposed to any problems here as we have expertise in optical. It is more difficult for companies working just with sunglasses at this price point.
You will also see our brand offerings reacting to this trend. Victoria Beckham, as a luxury apparel label, is a great example.

\\ Victoria Beckham: an exclusive long-term global licensing agreement was signed in 2018

Q: Comment on any news from MIDO that you wish to share as regards the eyewear collections and brand news?

A: Burkhardt: We are very happy to celebrate the return of DKNY to Marchon. The DKNY collection is now being designed in New York City by a young and talented team who have worked to capture the spirit of the city and New York city life.
This has really come out in the product in the new collections and we expect this to be very well received in the US, as well as in Western Europe.

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