King of Eyewear: Kering
Kering Eyewear was founded in September 2014 as a subsidiary of the French luxury goods conglomerate, Kering. The company was established to consolidate all of Kering's eyewear brands under one umbrella and to bring eyewear production in-house after realising that sunglasses were the first brand touchpoint of a Gucci buyer who became a lifelong customer.
The Creation Of Kering Eyewear
Before the formation of Kering Eyewear, their eyewear brands were licensed to third-party manufacturers. Gucci, for example, was produced under a licensing agreement with Safilo, an Italian eyewear manufacturer. This arrangement was familiar in the eyewear industry, with many luxury brands licensing out the production of their eyewear products. However, Kering wanted to take greater control over the production process and bring all of its brands under one roof. To achieve this goal, they created this new business unit within Kering that would be dedicated solely to the production and distribution of its eyewear brands. This involved acquiring the necessary resources, expertise and infrastructure to support this new business, as well as negotiating the termination of existing licensing agreements with third-party manufacturers.
One of the first steps taken by Kering Eyewear was to terminate its licensing agreement with Safilo. This was done through a negotiated €90 million payment to Safilo to end the Gucci brand license early. Kering also secured Safilo's CEO, Roberto Vedovotto, to lead the new eyewear business unit. His skills have been instrumental in guiding the brand along its steep growth curve.
The formation of their Eyewear sector was a bold move by Kering, and it caused a significant disruption in the eyewear industry. Safilo was the second-largest eyewear company in the world at the time, and the loss of the Gucci brand was a major blow. This move by Kering set off an industry-wide realignment that is still felt to this day.
Kering was initially headquartered in the iconic Villa Zaguri at the gates of Padua (Padova). They quickly outgrew this location and created a more voluminous office at Vescovana, a few miles away. They quickly got to work creating a new range of eyewear products for their various brands. The company invested heavily in research and development, hiring top designers and engineers to create innovative and stylish products that would help to differentiate Kering's brands from their competitors.
Today, Kering Eyewear produces eyewear for some of the world's most prestigious luxury brands, including Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga. The company operates its own factories and distribution networks and has become a key player in the global eyewear market. Most recently, Kering has added Maui Jim and Lindberg eyewear to its still-growing portfolio. This formation was a key part of Kering's strategy to bring all of its luxury brands under one roof and to take greater control over the production and distribution of its products. By doing so, Kering was able to differentiate its brands from its competitors and create a new source of revenue for the company.
Kering Eyewear's success is a testament to the brand's bold vision and its willingness to invest in innovation and quality. The company's focus on creating stylish and high-quality products has helped it to stand out in a crowded market and to attract a loyal customer base. As the eyewear market continues to grow and evolve, Kering Eyewear is well-positioned to continue its success and remain a key player in the industry.