The Royal Jewellers S01 ep10 : Bulgari [Rome]
Interview with Francesco Trapani
ROME- Francesco Trapani - Bulgari family member Trapani heads Italy's leading jewellery house.
My relationship with P & G [Procter & Gamble] started before Gianlucca [Brozetti- now CEO of ASPREY] in the sense I was a very good friend of a certain number of their people. One of them is Tony Belloni, who became COO of LVMH . This was at the beginning of the 80’s and I started going out with Tony and some others and a little later I learnt that the world of management was something I didn’t know at all and they started teaching me a certain number of things. .
As you know I am part of the Bulgari family. When I was very young, 12 –13
years of age I was already thinking about business in general and I was more
interested in thinking about the company or a business than to think about
surgery. My father was a surgeon. During my university years, I was always
talking with my uncles and they offered me to join the company.
Of course the base of the success that is the luxury concept was something
generated here. It is something we had. My grandfather actually started
implementing it in the 50’s & 60’s.
I started working here in 1981 and became CEO in July 1984.
KD – What was Bulgari like then?
It was actually a very prestigious name already, with a very high awareness in
Italy and a very low awareness outside of Italy.
My dream was to transform this small concern into this very big thing. I started
basically with a very conservative marketing strategy. I wanted to propose the
same marketing mix into the markets in which we were not present.
My relationship with P & G [Procter & Gamble] started before Gianlucca
[Brozetti- now CEO of ASPREY] in the sense I was a very good friend of a
certain number of their people. One of them is Tony Belloni, who became
COO of LVMH a week ago . This was at the beginning of the 80’s and I started
going out with Tony and some others and a little later I learnt that the world of
management was something I didn’t know at all and they started teaching me
a certain number of things.
KD – So here you are, hungry. Hungry for knowledge.
Exactly. So I started hiring ex-P&G people like Gianlucca because I was
basically importing, some techniques that were totally absent in a company
that was so small and Italian.
Luxury is still a business in which your personal judgement is very important,
more important than in some other businesses probably. If you are in the
consumer market you manage a company receiving a lot of detailed
information. For example you know exactly every single month what you have
sold yourself, but also what your competitors have done. In this business
[Luxury] , the information available is limited because you know what you are
doing but receive only limited information on what your competitors are doing.
When you make a decision it is much less educated. Educated is probably the
wrong word. It is more entrepreneurial. You take more risks. For example,
when you have to launch a product, a "luxury" product is not like in some other
business where it has to have a specific performance and if the performance is
there, then it is a good product. The image, the allure is much more important
than the specific performance, and you have to judge from scratch if the allure
is right one or not - it is a personal thing.
KD – How do you design?
We have different business units for different product categories and each
business unit has a Marketing Director and a guy in charge of the business
unit. These people are responsible for analysing basically the market. Meaning
the client on one side and the competitor on the other side and try to
understand what they are doing and which is the product offer and then come
up with a proposal. Let’s say our new product to be developed the different
characteristics in order to have something for the future that will compliment
what we are offering today. Then they give a brief to the creative people and
the creative people have to respond to these briefs. It is also true that the
creative people have the responsibility to go around and try and understand
which are the trends.
KD – How do these people know what is going to be a hit and what isn’t going
to be a hit?
Well…. Now and then we are right and then we are wrong. It is not said we are
always we win.
KD – But what are they looking at?
You look around. It is something that I also do and the guy in charge of "the
style" does. You go around and you look at people, you try to understand
which are the trends in terms of style, you go to the restaurants, you go to the
You get from the stock exchange a number of things. Two matters are very
important; first thing is that you are pushed to find new ideas, new things
because you need to perform. You have to launch new products, think about
tomorrow and second through stock options, gives the possibility to transform
at least the most important people of your company into an entrepreneur
because they know ‘why am I here until midnight – because the company is
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Bulgari Jewellery