Digitalisation increasingly important for eyewear, says Mondottica chief Tony Pessok
Mondottica has been forging ahead with multiple business developments in recent periods, covering both the premium and prestige segments of the eyewear market. Its most recent launches include new eyewear for Scotch & Soda and an ultra-high-end debut for Hackett. Fashionnetwork.com sat down (remotely) with CEO Tony Pessok to talk about the company, its plans, sustainability, digitalisation and how Covid-19 is affecting its business.
Fashionnetwork.com. How did you change your expansion strategies following the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis?
Tony Pessok. We are currently focusing on our core markets, and supporting our existing partners during these challenging times, while of course monitoring how the situation is developing at a local level. That said, we are also reviewing new opportunities as they arise, while building closer relationships with our existing brand partners.
FNW. What dynamics do you think will play a role in the eyewear sector in the short-to-medium term?
TP. I believe the main tradeshows will have to develop new formats that are very considerate towards the health and safety of the participants. The restrictions that are currently in place with regards to human interactions and social gatherings have already led to an additional increase of online transactions and digital engagement in general.
At Mondottica, we are reviewing the way in which we service our customers and are planning to increase online training and webinars. The aim of these interactive workshops is to gain a closer relationship with our customers providing brand and product training, while also gaining customer feedback. Our ability to stay agile and meet the ever-changing consumer demands will help strengthen our position in the market.
FNW. Did MIDO do well to cancel the 2020 edition and reschedule it for February 2021?
TP. Given the situation I feel Mido has made the right decision and has respected the current feelings of both exhibitors and visitors. 2020 is likely to be compromised so it is understandable they have decided to focus the efforts on next year instead.
FNW. In your opinion, should the other tradeshows scheduled after summer cancel their editions by targeting alternative digital formats, or not? And could this pandemic revolutionise the international trade fair universe or will events be organised as before?
TP. This pandemic will have an impact on our lifestyle in general. Business-wise, it will indeed change the way we work — from tradeshows to daily office life and from business travel to general meetings, everything will have a new set-up.
I believe all tradeshows and events this year will be affected by the current situation to some extent. A good test will be to see how the London Fashion Week in June goes as it will be the first digital-only Fashion Week ever.
FNW. Will digitalisation be an additional tool for the eyewear sector? And how?
TP. Absolutely. Digitalisation was already a key factor, and it will now play an even more remarkable role. At Mondottica, we will be investing further in our successful B2B service for ordering, guaranteeing fresh replenishment on a daily basis and allowing customers to maintain a strong brand and product offering in-store. We are also investigating the implementation of an augmented reality system to allow virtual fitting experiences for both opticians and end consumers. We see this platform as a vital tool for our customers — it will be multifunctional, providing an improved browsing service that in turn will allow our customers to provide an enhanced service to their patients.
FNW. What sustainability initiatives does Mondottica have in the pipeline?
TP. We have actively been working in the background with key brands and partners to develop cases and cleaning cloths that are made with 95% sustainable materials, and they have been on the market since last season. We are planning to extend this further and the new strategies will be announced soon.
Since last year we also have a dedicated research team in Asia whose aim is to find sustainable products and suppliers all over the world to partner with.
FNW. How much do e-commerce and travel retail (TR) weigh on sales and how much did they grow last year? Given the situation generated by the pandemic, have Mondottica's projects in travel retail slowed down and those in e-commerce increased?
TP. As for the majority of industries and companies, the TR business has had a significant decline. However, we are positive in thinking it will slowly pick up when the travel restrictions will start to be lifted. We are expanding the e-commerce business and we will be launching strategic partnerships with several key new partners shortly.
FNW. On sales, in percentage terms, how much do men's glasses generate compared to women’s, and what is the same ratio for eyeglasses/sunglasses? And which are the brands that generate the most turnover?
TP. With a diverse brand portfolio, our offering covers all demographics. Naturally our more established brands deliver a greater percentage of overall revenue, but each brand has a unique position to meet the demands of our ever expanding customer base.
The sales mix naturally varies by brand, women’s and men’s sales are split 60% and 40% respectively. Sunglasses currently equate for 25% of our business and we have strong strategic plans to drive sales of sunglasses going forward, with some new relationships already at contract stage.
FNW. How many brands does Mondottica currently have in its portfolio?
TP. Following the launch of Sergio Tacchini and Scotch & Soda last year, Mondottica currently has 20 brands in its portfolio.
FNW. Has the duration of some license agreements in your portfolio been (or will they be) extended?
TP. Last year we announced the renewal of a number of license agreements including the Hackett and Pepe Jeans (Pepe Jeans Group). I can also advise that we are in advance conversations to execute a couple more in the coming months.
FNW. The partnership with Scotch & Soda made its debut with the SS20 season. What results do you expect from it?
TP. Since its inception we have been working very closely with the brand on their debut eyewear collection, making sure the spirit of Scotch & Soda — exploration, hidden details and subversion of traditional design principles – is proudly represented, and I believe we have managed to achieve this. As a result, the collection has proven to be very successful since the official launch last month, with the brand’s e-commerce outperforming despite the current challenging situation worldwide.
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