Author: 20/20 Europe Editorial Staff

Interview of the Month
October 15, 2020

Daniele Bazzocchi, General Manager of Italian contact lens manufacturer SAFILENS says that while the climate is tough, work must go forward to pursue innovation, product development and support to the optical retailer.

Q: How have you steered through the last difficult months? 

A: Like many other companies we’ve struggled to deal with the unforeseen scenario of the past months. The company continued to work always with the safety of the employees as the main concern, and we introduced shifts and relocated premises in order to guarantee distancing. As we were fully aware of the difficulties of our counterparts we worked hard to extend payment terms while providing timely supply and service. 
As an Italian company, during the Covid-19 Emergency, we couldn't just sit around while our country lived through the hardest times in recent history.
We decided to build an initiative to support the law enforcement agencies, health workers and civil protection volunteers through the collaboration of more than 300 optical centre partners who distributed over 10 thousands packs of daily contact lenses free of charge, for a market value of almost 280,000 euros, to guarantee the highest hygiene and safety to those hard working categories at the forefront of the flight against the pandemic.

Q: What is the current stance of the company and are you seeing a return to normality as yet in Italy and further afield?

A: We’re fully operational. The timings of the recovery are different in every country we’re working with. The evidence, subjectively boosted by our optimism, shows a trend in the right direction despite the general slowdown of business. 
In Italy we launched through our social media an advertising campaign called “#Rilanciamo l’Italia” (“Let’s Restart Together”) with an optimistic and positive message for our partners and general audience. We would like to spread the message that Safilens is present and still here to provide innovation, product development and support to the optical centres. 

Q: This year is a landmark one at SAFILENS. You are already 20 years old. Can you tell us about your reflections as you look back over the years. Despite the difficult economic scenario right now, what is your main aspiration at this i

A: This important milestone is not going to be a turning point but gives Safilens the chance to better understand where we are and where we want to go. In the contact lens industry we’ve worked to introduce high quality products and state-of-the-art innovation. This continuous effort is well recognized by customers and competitors and the growth of the company gives us confidence in the good job we’ve done so far. Our industry is changing and it is crucial from now on to be attentive to the unexpressed needs of customers and to technological developments; it will be the only way, along with our flexibility, to grow despite difficult scenarios. 

Q: Technological innovation has propelled SAFILENS forward throughout the last years. And this year was to see further important innovations. Can you please reveal more and will things go ahead as planned?

A: The pandemic has forced us to rearrange the pipeline of new products and our scheduled agenda; but our R&D is relentless and we expect to present a new daily disposable family by the end of this year. The first new product after the pandemic and a significant debut for our 20th anniversary. 

Q: What are your current activities in the post-Covid situation at an international level?

A: Our distribution partners are getting back on track and we have committed to guaranteeing the service level independently of the volumes reported. For instance Safilens UK reps have now started to visit customers again. 

Q: What are your plans as regard attending trade fairs in the next months? How are you supporting customers and retailers through this period?

A: It is difficult to say. Trade shows and fairs are being cancelled or postponed. We are testing some remote modalities for events and shows but it’s too early to see their effectiveness. At this stage we prefer to focus on and address resources for our existing customers by supplying dedicated training, financial flexibility and an unparalleled service level. 

Q: Some companies have announced innovative commercial solutions to weather the storm and navigate the new working conditions. Does this also apply to SAFILENS and what is your focus in this area?

A: Some of our partners worldwide have introduced solutions in response to the uncertainty of these last months. Safilens has a home delivery service fully operational in the UK, and it might be available in other markets too, but we have to be aware that local habits vary in each country and some areas are not yet ready to adapt to new commercial solutions. 


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