Safilo: “We Want To Stay Independent…”

 Safilo translates extraordinary design into excellent products, with superior craftsmanship expertise dating back to 1878. VisionPlus team in conversation with Carole Binet, Country Manager, France & Benelux and Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Safilo, India

With more than 20 years of management experience in France, Great Britain, Spain, USA Corporate management, Brand management, Sales and industrial business development, Selective distribution network, Carole Binet explains how she is keen on promoting the eyewear to the women segment and how she is determined to make it happen.
Carole Binet, Safilo

VisionPlus Magazine (VP): Please tell us a little about your foray into the eyewear industry. How did it all start?
Carole Binet (CB): I started in 1987 with Optyl Carrera. At that time, Optyl Carrera was the leader company in the world and had brands like Carrera, Porsche Design, Dior and Hugo Boss, and that was one of the biggest company. I stayed ten years with them holding several positions always related to sales and trained marketing in France, UK, Spain and then back to the UK.

And then Safilo took over in 1996, so I left. I joined Safilo 2 and half years ago as the Country Manager for France. And now as a Global Optical Leader for this project.

VP: What are the major turning points that you have witnessed in these many years?
CB: Honestly, the turning points are the changes in the industry which has always been really low, it’s an industry that doesn’t really accept a lot of changes. This is how it has been projected in the industry. And I think everybody is very solid in their game. But the industry has changed, starting from the retails. So most of the changes were coming mostly at first from the retail side.

But that is a good opportunity for us because we never changed for the industry and that’s what we want to keep and want to stay independent. We want to see overseas opportunities, we want to be a powerhouse industry and I personally think that is what is going to make a change in the future.

VP: What were your objectives when you came on board with Safilo?
CB: The only reason, I came on board is because of the CEO Luisa Delgado. She explained to me the project and mentioned that she wanted to revolutionise the company. I liked the vision she had and it seemed like a challenge. It has been three years since then and we are recognised in the industry and we are doing tremendous work.

VP: Safilo has a distribution network in 38 countries – in North and Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific and China. Which are the regions that you would call as the best market for Safilo?
CB: The strongest doesn’t mean the best. In the United States and western region market, USA is one, France is Two, Italy is three and we are of course gaining market share in Germany, UK, Nordic Region but still we have white space where we are investing more which is Latin America. India is a strong market where we are investing, and
we will get to see improvement very soon. The objective is to double up. And balance it out.

VP: SAFILO is currently promoting female development in the Eyewear Industry. What are the steps taken in this direction. How many female partners does Safilo have, and in which region? Do you plan to take this forward in other regions like India, Middle East, Southeast Asia? If yes, how?
CB: All the years, women in the industry are trying to make a little community. So it doesn’t matter what is your background, we can change and make a network together.

So we decided to have a team together, we had people coming from all over the world. Brazil, India, China, Russia, Poland, France, Italy, etc. All ages, all types of women: fit, fashion or not fit or whatever. The only common thing was that they all have executive things in the industry.

While we enjoyed talking about Safilo’s turn of events from around the world, Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Safilo, India enlightened us about the latest chores took place in the company for the Indian market.
Nalini Gupta, Safilo

VP: Is there any initiatives that you have implemented only for the Indian market? And how rewarding has that been? How is the Indian landscape different than other countries?

Nalini Gupta (NG): Apart from our many corporate initiatives which were recently announced, we do have a dedicated plan for Safilo India to triple the business in the next 2-3 years.

We are happy to share with you the appointment of Ranveer Singh as the brand ambassador for Carrera and Anushka Sharma for Polaroid. The initial response from consumers and retailers, after the press announcement has been phenomenal and we are looking forward to a successful collaboration with them.

To further enlarge our consumer base, we have decided to launch the concept of entry price collection in India, which gave us a very positive response during our local and international buying days in the last 3 months. Also our brand portfolio is being enriched with the arrival of more Safilo brands: Dior will be launched in India with a selective distribution concept, to make sure that this prestigious fashion luxury brand lands in the best retail environment.

The launch of Elie Saab witnesses Safilo’s entry into the Atelier segment, the highest end category in our portfolio, while bringing kate spade new York in the eponymous stores in India will give us the opportunity to complete the fashion house offer with the related eyewear collection.

To cater to the additional demand, Safilo India has adopted its go-to-market approach by engaging with various distributors across the Country, to be as close as possible to the markets and their varying requirements.

As a logical consequence, we have enhanced our organisational capabilities, and enriched our teams with professionals in various functions; Sales, Trade Marketing, Public Relations, Human Resources,.

VP: What would you like to see different in India for it to develop into a much larger and more mature market?
NG: India is a dynamic Country which is evolving at a fast pace and eyewear industry is following this trend too. A big part of the population in India requires vision correction and this market has a great potential thanks to the fast-growing demand for optical frames. In this scenario, Safilo affirms its renowned leadership in the optical segment, enhancing its optical capability in the entire value chain from design to manufacturing, to sales force training and after-sales service.
Along with our, technical expertise outstanding craftsmanship and cutting- edge innovation that over the decades has provided the industry with some of the most relevant innovations such as the Elasta hinge, the newest 360° hinge and the UFO patent. This would complement the demand for quality in our Indian market.

VP: Carrera recently brought popular actor Ranveer Singh on board as brand Ambassador in India, what is your take on that?
NG: Carrera has been leading our growth story in India for the past few years. With Ranveer Singh as our brand ambassador we are bringing Carrera to the next level.
As the perfect blend between retro aesthetics and contemporary feeling, the new sunglasses and optical frames are the result of unparalleled manufacturing skills, the use of sophisticated materials and the research on best quality lenses.
We are truly delighted to have Ranveer as the face of Carrera. Known for his bold personality, free spiritedness, unique sense of style, infectious energy and the distinct winning attitude – that blends with the Brand’s DNA. Ranveer enjoys a huge fan following amongst the Indian audiences and is loved by the youth.
The advertising campaign has been launched. Simultaneously, the new Carrera eyewear collection has hit the stores with a phenomenal response.


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