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How Safilo Group is creating a lasting legacy for the brand in the Middle East

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Andrea Zaffin, Commercial Head for India, Middle East and South Africa of Safilo Group discusses the legacy and leading the brand in the region.

What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?

I like to start my day by doing some stretches while reviewing the main tasks for the day. I used to check my mobile in the morning earlier, however, I’ve decided to stop doing that during the first 30 minutes of my day. I usually take this time to speak to my girls, listen to their stories and enjoy a good family breakfast which is the best decision ever. It’s exciting to see how today’s younger generation interact so confidently with adults.

Safilo Group commercial head

What is the DNA of Safilo, its core values?

Safilo is a company defining the eyewear industry for more than 140 years. By incorporating key values such as craftsmanship, innovation, passion and know-how, Safilo sets itself apart. This aspect allows us to create top-quality products with a unique design and a timeless aesthetic.

The brand’s heritage lies in innovation. How have you built on this both globally and through the region?

 

A quote that stands out for me is “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” In terms of style and product development, Safilo has constantly been innovating from design to the final product, as we capture the evolution of new trends while keeping an eye on technology and sustainability. To give you an example, last year, we launched a very successful new brand, David Beckham. With a completely new approach to conventional branded eyewear, it was considered the savoir-faire of Safilo, as it’s closely associated with a global icon and reflects David’s vision and his taste and eye for detail. With this revolutionary movement in the industry, our client’s appreciation was received both regionally and globally. It depicts how the times are changing for optical retailers in an ever-evolving environment. From a new brand like David Beckham to brands like Carrera celebrating 65 years of history, the innovation is continuous. We are just about to launch a special edition “Carrera for Dubai” honouring the city and the people of Dubai, a project which we are very proud about. The company has also taken a strong direction toward digitalisation, which allows us to work directly with our clients. This B2B online platform launched in Europe earlier this year, with the regional implementation already taking place in several countries. A complete rollout is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

How does the appetite for sunglasses design and composition in the Middle East differ from that of other markets?

The consumption of optical frames is higher than sunglasses globally, while in the Middle East, sunglasses have always been a leading category in the industry, since the early 2000s. Despite the change in travelling and tourism, an appetite for sunshine remains constantly. However, this has been changing in the past two years, as we’ve seen very strong growth for the optical category. As the attention to eye-wellness and a general acceptance of optical frames continues to grow, this gives strong momentum to this category. Another key point is that consumers are moving towards more mid-price products. As luxury and premium brands have traditionally been consuming the majority of the space in the optical stores, it’s key to have a more balanced offer and the Safilo brand portfolio is particularly suitable towards brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Carrera, Levi’s, Under Armour and others to name a few.

The UAE encourages and cultivates an environment in which to thrive in business – how have you experienced this?

Historically, geographically and culturally, this region has always been an important trading hub. Over the last few years, the UAE leadership and capability to innovate and adapt with timing and execution has strongly modernised the country, create infrastructure and incentivised competitiveness. Anyone who has been working in this country is witnessing such an inspiring transformation.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

The three pieces of advice that I would give to myself is to firstly, keep learning and investing in yourself, no matter whatever you decide to do, secondly, connect and build your network, not just on social but physically organise meetings with people and thirdly be surrounded by good people.

Carrera

So much has been achieved in the UAE in 50 years, do you feel this pace and scale of growth is reflected in the businesses based here?

I am a big believer in this part of the world, if we look at the past 20 years we have seen lot of acceleration and development in the UAE and in the rest of the Gulf. If you like to learn to move fast, UAE is the right place to be where an organisation can grow young talents, test new initiatives and develop a strong entrepreneurial mindset.

This year we celebrate the UAE’s 50th Anniversary – what makes this region unique to you?

My first trip to Dubai was in 1996 when I came as a young man to visit some customers for my first business trip ever. During that trip, I also visited Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. I remember being fascinated by meeting clients and generally people who I had never met before, it was the first flavour of the Middle East. A few years later in 2000, I had the opportunity to relocate to Dubai and that’s where I started my journey in the region. It began both professionally and personally for me, so this part of the world is very unique to me. This region is very special for Safilo as a brand too. Our sunglasses have been part of the history of the country, particularly Carrera sunglasses, which are used by the leaders and the people of the region since the early 1960s. There’s no doubt that this region has always had a clear vision.

Emirates Man – The Winter Escape Issue – Download Now

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Images: Supplied

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