Interview With Lorenzo Barberio, Marcolin’s General Manager And Head Of Sales APAC: Asian Market Growth Is Just The Starting Point OF An Upward Trend

Thanks to the functionality of the eyewear industry, even in the midst of the historic downs brought about by the pandemic, the eyewear industry has demonstrated greater resilience than other industries for the past two years, as evidenced by the revenue of world leaders in eyewear, which shows that the industry has already embarked on the path to recovery early on. Marcolin, as one of the industry main leaders, has also quickly established a foothold in the waves, with revenue in the Asian market last year approaching a nearly 50% increase (calculated at current exchange rates). The rebound in the Asia-Pacific region is remarkable, and it is believed to be related to Marcolin’s visionary operational strategies. Lorenzo Barberio, Marcolin’s General Manager and Head of Sales APAC, officially joined the company last year to lead the company’s business in the Asia-Pacific region. Let’s hear from him about the group’s strategic plans and future deployment.

V: VMAGAZINE | L: Lorenzo Barberio

▲ Lorenzo Barberio, General Manager and Head of Sales APAC of Marcolin

V: Please introduce yourself to our readers, and how did your paths cross with Marcolin.

L: I have been working in the accessories & luxury business for the last 10 years. My experience in the eyewear market started six years ago and I have always been interested & attracted by Marcolin. A diversified portfolio among brands that extend from diffusion, sport, premium and luxury clusters and a heritage on the business that in 62 years of growth has become a choice partner for many. I have joined the new team build by our CEO, Fabrizio Curci, to be part of a company that is having as mission worldwide to become the “best and preferred PARTNER”, by continuing to listen to customers, showcasing the quality of what we do, and how we do it, to establish solid, long-lasting, valuable relationships.

V: According to financial report 2022, there’s a significant growth in Asia (+ 47% at current exchange rates and + 33% at constant exchange rates). What is the significance of the APAC market in this growth, and how would you describe its role?

L: 2022 has been the best year in the Company’s history and this makes us very proud. The growth continued in Q1 2023: we consider this positive trend as a starting point.

This positive trend in Asian market is due to a more diffused presence of our Company: a takeover that started since 2021. The Group has been present in the Chinese market for years through a joint venture with the Ginko Group, a long-standing player in the local eyewear market, a relationship that concluded at the end of 2020 with the acquisition of the remaining 50% of the company’s shares. Moreover, the Group completed the opening of a new subsidiary in Shanghai in July 2021. The new branch is located in a strategic part of the city, the Jing’an District, a modern and upmarket commercial and financial district in the centre of Shanghai. Thanks to these initiatives we further strengthened our commercial presence in China and, as part of a broader strategy of corporate consolidation and direct presence in key markets, Marcolin Shanghai is supporting local partners more closely, responding more effectively and quickly to consumer needs.

▲ Marcolin’s new subsidiary office in Shanghai

V: The wave of covid19 has subsided. What new changes are emerging in terms of the eyewear market and Marcolin’s company strategy?

L: As said, the 100% takeover has been fundamental. Thanks to the new subsidiary in Shanghai, we aimed at increasing the company’s organic growth in the market, while at the same time guarantee the production chain and offering products developed specifically for the Chinese market, thanks to in-depth expertise in fitting and design processes and close collaboration with the country’s major customers.

V: How has Marcolin navigated the current economic climate and maintained its position as a leading player in the eyewear industry?

L: In 2022, Marcolin proved to be a sound and profitable company, capable of facing, with a long-term vision, a challenging period in history and confirming its leading position among the leading global players in an ever-evolving industry. In 2022, the Group continued to develop its medium- to long-term initiatives aimed at further strengthening customer focus, growth and development of markets and channels, digitalization of processes and platforms, and inventory optimization. All these initiatives have both short and medium to long-term objectives and will further strengthen the Group’s market position in the coming years.

V: The APAC market is a vast and diverse region, with unique cultural and market differences among its countries. How do you localize the business strategy and the product in Hong Kong, China and other Asian cities? (please list 1-2 countries as an example)

L: We have set up a brand-new product team with experienced management and designers in Hong Kong because APAC is a complex market, and it is crucial to strategically catch the right trends, sizes and styles that are not often homogeneous between countries like Japan & China for example. Resources are not illimited so need to be focused, speak with partners around the region and invest in the best projects for the growth of the region. As said, we aim to be the best and preferred partner and we meant to start with the offer: we can select the most suitable portfolio according to the specific of the customer, supporting is sell out with a diversified and tailormade marketing strategy.

V: What brands do you think have the higher potential in Hong Kong and China? Are you doing anything special for those brands?

L: After restrictions in China & Hong Kong, once back to normal for retail, we saw very strong demand for all our brands. Among our luxury portfolio TOM FORD has a very balanced consumer base, with unisex frames optical & sun equally successful; Zegna is very strong in male luxury eyewear segment and is energizing the market with his rebranding operation started last year. Max Mara is one strategic brand in our offer to attract female customers with premium selections. The boost in healthy lifestyle has pushed up incredibly also brand such as adidas with our active & performance collections. BMW has a strong aspirational value and in high demand in China where we are reaching out to consumers in many cities quite quickly. We have a special project on our own core brand WEB EYEWEAR thanks to collaboration with the first Chinese F1 driver Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo F1 Team official drivers.

▲ Zegna (Left)、Tom Ford (Right)

V: What is the company’s strategy for growth and expansion in 2023 and 2024?

L: We will continue to offer the best design & quality across our licenses with adaptation of product for the local consumers. Special editions and collection in collaboration with local partners help us to navigate fast in the region. Digitalization is a very important part of our strategy with incredible tools for our employees and partners to make Marcolin more and more the preferred eyewear partner in the region for chains and independent opticians. In this crucial year, it is our goal to support our partners with a hybrid marketing strategy to smoothen the customers’ journey between digital and physical environment. We want to elevate the brand experience for our customers’ base starting from in-store: service quality and timing is our leverage to partner with the right players in each channel according to each of our brand DNA and our partner expectations.