Riccardo Sciutto of Sergio Rossi says omni-channel strategy, Asia, Italian craftsmanship are key
At the helm of Sergio Rossi since April 2016, Riccardo Sciutto has comprehensively restructured and reorganized the Italian luxury footwear label, which was sold by Kering to the Investindustrial investment fund in late 2015. Sergio Rossi is now flying the Chinese flag, having been recently acquired by Fosun Fashion Group, and Sciutto, who has been confirmed in his post, explained to FashionNetwork.com how he intends to pursue his mission.
FashionNetwork.com: What are the details of the operation with Fosun?
Riccardo Sciutto: We cannot reveal any figure related to the transaction. Investindustrial, as do most investment funds, was planning to disengage after five years. We found in Fosun a partner keen to ensure the continuity of our strategy. It was love at first sight. The Chinese group made it a condition of the acquisition that I remain at the helm of the company. Together with my senior-level executives, we became co-investors alongside Fosun, acquiring a small stake in Sergio Rossi. It’s a strong signal of consistency and continuity.
FNW: What are Sergio Rossi's fundamentals today?
RS: In the last five years, we have carried out an in-depth overhaul, revamping Sergio Rossi’s factory in San Mauro Pascoli, the Italian footwear industry’s cradle, in the Emilia-Romagna region. It’s a unique site, the label’s true added value. It extends over 50,000 m2, and is home to the factory (10,000 m2), but also warehouses, administrative offices and our archives, featuring 7,000 pairs of shoes.
We employ 200 skilled artisans out of a total workforce of 420, and we produce for third-party clients too. With Fosun, we can imagine future synergies, producing footwear collections for the group’s other current or future brands. Besides preserving Italian traditions and expertise, our key strategic assets, we are also accelerating our innovation drive, by deploying digital and omni-channel tools, and our international expansion.
FNW: Which are your main markets?
RS: China and Japan account for more than half of our revenue, with roughly equivalent shares. They are followed by Italy, France, which is going very well, and Russia. We operate four stores in Paris [where, on rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, the Sergio Rossi store sits alongside Lanvin, another label owned by Fosun]. In Japan, we directly operate 24 stores, and in China 12. We have just opened two stores in the country, and two more openings are scheduled for September. It’s clear that, through Fosun, we’ll be able to step up the pace of our expansion in this market, in terms of store openings and e-tail. At the end of April, China was our leading market for online sales. Within the luxury sector, China will soon account for the same revenue as the rest of the world combined. It is more than crucial to be well-positioned in the country.
FNW: Your next challenges for Sergio Rossi?
RS: Our omni-channel strategy, Asia, and tapping Italian craftsmanship are our priorities. The goal is to close the circle and to bring to fruition the strategy we have put in place. In other words, taking a long-term perspective and conquering the luxury sector's key markets, while preserving our roots by highlighting the importance of Italian craftsmanship.
FNW: What about Sergio Rossi’s omni-channel strategy?
RS: It’s one of our flagship projects. In 2020, we renovated our temporary store in via Montenapoleone, in the heart of Milan, which we decided to continue to operate, with the first floor entirely dedicated to distance sales. Customers from around the world can link up and browse our collections, presented by our sales assistants on site. It's like a kind of radio station or TV studio. From my desk, via pc screens, I can step in to greet our most important customers. Currently, one third of the store's sales are made remotely. The idea is to replicate this feature in our other stores, as we did a week ago in Paris, to give customers a 360º omni-channel experience. It is important to train sales staff properly, because it’s a completely different way of selling. We do this through our own academy.
FNW: How are sales and the post-pandemic recovery going?
RS: In 2019, Sergio Rossi's revenue was €68 million. Owing to the pandemic, last year it slumped by 27%. But the start of the year is proving to be highly positive. Between January and the end of April 2021, we recorded a 38% increase in sales, especially in Asia.
FNW: How is your distribution network organised?
RS: In total, we have 64 monobrand stores, 45 of which are directly operated. We are in the process of negotiating new franchises, with Kuwait and Almaty, Kazakhstan, the first on the list. As for the wholesale channel, we have nearly 300 multi-brand clients. Fortunately, we were little exposed on this channel, which has suffered significantly. It has changed a lot too, becoming smaller and tougher. We are hoping to strengthen our position in wholesale via the project we launched last February with the new Sì Rossi line, which in fact existed in the past. It’s a younger, more glamorous collection with highly recognizable, bulky platform soles and heels, distributed in 30 top stores, which has been very successful from the outset.
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