The Fashion Folk S01 ep14 : Gianluca Brozetti, Louis Vuitton, [Paris]
Interview with Gianluca Brozetti
When we were in McKenzie, the Gucci family was run by Maurizio with his cousins. They wanted to make the transition from family to management so they came to McKenzie and they got a General manager and a team of people from McKenzie's. It failed. Luxury goods have a spirit, have a soul. They are not just numbers, they are not just logistics they are not just mechanisms, there is something intangible that we sell to our clients that goes beyond the product. So on one side understanding the philosophy of the family which has been creating a successful story, I think it is a key ingredient to continue the successful story later on when you bring in more management, more systems, more professionalism - you should never forget that the success of that product started from a family where there was something intangible.
Louis Vuiton is a unique company, which has a long history that started with
the history of travelling. I joined the company almost one year ago. Prior to that
I was working with the Bvulgari group and I had been there 13 years. Before
Bvulgari I was at Gucci for 1and 1/2 years, and before Gucci I was with
Proctor and Gamble and McKenzie consulting business.
KM: Why the luxury business, it is a big contrast or is it?
I think it is a contrast in one aspect but not in another. I think that today it is
more and more evident that the Luxury business is a serious business where
there are capitals, where the companies on the stock exchange and when you
are in this type of business you need management. Management that applies
strategies, that applies rules, that applies discipline. So if you have a good
background, a good professional background in management if you apply
these to the luxury industry then you see the results.
When we were in McKenzie and at that time in the Gucci family there was still
Maurizio with his cousins, they wanted to make the transition from family to
management and they decided to get on board a group of management. So
they came to McKenzie and they got a General manager from McKenzie and a
team of people from McKenzie's. But it failed.
KM: Why is it that family companies are more resistant to corporatisation,
What are the things you have to be very careful of when you walk into this sort
Many brands that work in luxury goods have a spirit, have a soul. They are not
just numbers, they are not just logistics, they are not just mechanisms, there is
something intangible that we sell to our clients that goes beyond the product.
So on one side understanding the philosophy of the family which has been
creating a successful story, I think it is a key ingredient to continue the
successful story later on when you bring in more management, more systems,
more professionalism - you should never forget that the success of that
product started from a family where there was something intangible.
KM: You have been in a very fortunate position to see these companies grow
from obviously a family company which was a large family company, to a very,
very large international companies which are traded on the stock exchange - is
it a natural thing that has to happen today because of the way the luxury
It is not a must to develop the company into a management company, or to go
to the stock exchange. But I think that will make a lot better for the company
and probably ensure the survival of the company and the success of the
company in the long term because when you go into this kind of experience if
you are smart enough to preserve the spirit and the soul that we referred to
before, you bring in a lot of discipline. When you bring in discipline you
understand that you are selling luxury goods but at the same time there is a
bottom line to respect, there is a cash flow to generate, there is a return
investment to ensure and that is good also for the families.
KM: In the luxury business there is not a lot of expertise, in other words even if
they come to a McKenzie or an Arthur Anderson, whoever you want to go to
how do these families find the people in McKenzie and people like you that
were sympathetic, that did understand the difference in selling soap powder
and selling a luxury good?
I think that at the beginning as being done with a lot of let us say good
common sense and luck. Some have been more lucky than others,
KM: What do you mean by luck?
Luck of coming across people that have managerial skills and at the same time
have the capability understanding taste, luxury products, customer service
which makes the luxury world a little bit different from a mass market product.
KM: What is it that makes the luxury business very different from other
businesses that you are used to?
What is different is the "intangible" that we are able to create around that
product that gives a dimension to this product completely different - it is the
enjoyment of using that product of a certain signature, with a certain shape,
with a certain colour that makes the client come into the store, that we call
luxury goods, instead of running into a mass market brand that may offer the
same functionality but without the intangible without the dream that we can
create on a luxury good.
KM: How is art related to luxury?
If we speak about art as a source of inspiration, as a point of reference I think
that for sure that when you work in luxury goods you make a lot of reference to
signs, symbols, or piece of art that existed in the past that existed in a given
country. I think if you take the canvas monogram we use in our product for
instance, that comes from a long research that was made by Louis Vuiton on
the flower decoration in Japanese art. So I think that there are many
references to art. When I was saying that we should be careful in speaking art,
concerning luxury goods, is that when we sell today a product we sell a luxury
good, we don't sell a piece of art. But of course, inspiration, contamination, it is
very important because I think that it is part of our life.
KM: How different is the Italian luxury business to the French luxury business?
You were referring before to the age of wickatores in Paris I think in that age
there was a lot of influence coming from Florence from the Medici Family, so
they brought in perfumes, they brought in the art of jewellery into France. Then
France developed it in an incredible way in the luxury world and today is the
renowned country for luxury products. While Italy, which has been at the
beginning, the inspirator of these luxury goods is today stronger and stronger
in the design area.
KM: Bvulgari were originally and I have to say proudly, originally Greek.
KM: Who came to Rome and of course must have liked Pasta and stayed
KM: Clearly they started making jewellery but they were never as famous as
they are today. What part did you play in the modern history of Bvulgari?
I played the part of management working in a company that had decided to
take a certain strategy - there is one person that you mentioned before that is
the 4th generation of the Bvulgari family, Francesco Trapani who is very young
and is a very good friend of many of us at Proctor and Gamble. He would go
out with us for lunch and dinner on the week end and he would hear about
marketing strategies, quarterly reviews, stock exchange so he got the
inspiration of saying but why should I continue to be the 4th generation of a
company with 5 stores, a small jewellery range, and a small business? So he
said to himself I want to do like the others are doing so he was the good liaison
between the spirit of the family and the management.
So deliberately wanted to make the company big, but keeping the respect its
origins, of its heritage of Bvulgari but using all the possible modern technology
and management skills to make it big and to make it consistent. So we set up
when we joined the company, a very precise strategy, at that point it was no
longer a matter of luck, we studied the market, we studied the competition, we
made any sort of studies on how we could progress....
KM: What did you find at the time? It must have been strange for you from
McKenzie to actually now first.... because no one had ever done these studies
Yes, no, no - we were the first ones to make important studies, competitive
studies and which were the assets for these small brands that would have
been the assets to compete with these big giants. I think that in 10 or 15 years
of activity Bvulgari has become number three in terms of size in the jewellery
world behind Cartier and Tiffany.
KM: How do you make the proper product?
Again you need to understand what the company is, where you come from,
what the clients are expecting, and then you have always to have the desire to
dare a little bit. I think that in luxury goods if you come up with something
which is good quality but also unexpected, then you are on the right way and in
the right direction.
KM: Keep making people curious, surprised...
Yes, curious, surprised, something that is not totally expected I think it is
important in luxury goods, because people who buy luxury goods are very
sophisticated people who are looking for the latest, looking for the new, for
what is different, are looking for what made them feel different.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Gianluca Brozetti, Louis Vuitton, Paris