Safilo, a world leader in eyewear, is making moves to reassure the market of its focus on independent optometry practices and its commitment to Australia.
Globally, the company has abandoned its own branded retail stores, selling to a US/ European partnership in a move that will save a staggering AU$16 million (approx.) per year. The sale also removes the conflict of interest many retail clients perceived to be in the way of commercial relationships.
One of the biggest obstacles for optometrists is not having stock at hand
Additionally, Safilo’s CEO, Angelo Trocchia has determined a strategy that sets out to support the characteristics of each region as opposed to taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to its 100,000 retail destinations.
In Australia, this translates to the investment in a trendy regional office in the wholesale fashion district of Surry Hills in Sydney, with a dedicated showroom, as well as an expanded sales team that comprises 11 experienced sales representatives, to service the needs of customers around the country. David Pearson, who has over 15 years’ experience in optics, has been appointed Safilo’s Senior Director for Asia Pacific, based in Singapore.
RETURNING TO ITS ROOTS
Safilo’s global chief financial officer, Gerd Graehsler, was recently in Australia to demonstrate the company’s renewed support for the region. Speaking to mivision, he explained that Safilo is returning to its roots in optical eyewear.
“Safilo used to be a strong optical company, but 20 years ago we became more focussed on sun, luxury and licences, and we lost our way a bit on optical,” he said.
“We sell optical frames valued at around $660 million a year – and while that is a large number, it represents just 40% of our total sales.” Mr Graehsler says all things going well, optical frames will become 60% of its product sales.
“We have a very broad portfolio with 25 brands… our challenge is to ensure optometrists know we are there to support them with eyewear that ranges from affordable contemporary brands through to luxury brands.
GLOBAL INVESTMENT IN TECHNOLOGY
Mr Pearson says that support extends to expanded warehousing in Australia, automated supply chains and SMILE (an automated replenishment system) as well as the roll out of a sophisticated global B2B system, which is constantly being evolved.
“One of the biggest obstacles for optometrists is not having stock at hand. Optometrists can now leave their best-selling frames on the shelf, check stock levels in the warehouse, and place an order for a frame and lens package with our labs in Italy, America, China and Slovenia. Delivery takes place within a week,” he said. “Customers can also check on campaigns, spare parts, after sales, and warranties.
“Additionally, they can use the system to access free digital assets that can be used for online marketing. We want to help optometrists sell with great digital assets they can use to market to their customers. Our sales reps are also out there supporting optometrists with guidance on product displays and sell through,” he said.
“For us, it’s about focussing on the basics of business, we want to help optometrists excite patients and make them feel part of the practice, with product that is great for their vision and makes them feel awesome as they walk out”
PRODUCTS NEW AND ON THEIR WAY
Safilo launched Smith Rx eyewear with Chromopop lenses at O=Mega in July, which Mr Pearson says has been well received.
At the other end of the market, the price of Jimmy Choo in Australia has been reduced to make it more accessible, and a new statement collection is ready to launch.
Additionally, a David Beckham collection is on its way for independent optometry.
“It’s a really beautiful product, with awesome details and subtle branding to suit millennial males. David Beckham has made several trips to our head office in Padua to involve himself in the design process and he also features in all the point of sale, so the marketing is destined to grab attention,” said Mr Pearson.
With a strong global social media following, and a raft of highly successful fashion products branded David Beckham, these frames are sure to quickly find a strong market when they arrive in the country in September/October.
“This will be a good boost for optometrists in the men’s premium market,” said Mr Graehsler. “Our mission is to help optometrists differentiate themselves, and have a story to tell – collections like those by David Beckham and Smith Rx help them do it.”