Stefano Ricci expecting "two years of exponential growth"
Stefano Ricci sees a bright future. The Florentine house, specialising in very high-end men's clothing 100% made in Italy, expects 150 million euros for 2022, up 20% on 2021, recovering its pre-pandemic level of 2019. Although the Covid crisis and the war in Ukraine have strongly penalised the house in its most important markets such as China and Russia, it has been able to compensate with the United States and Europe, taking advantage of the lockdown periods to rationalise its operations. As a result, it has gained market share and is in an enviable position of strength.
This shows through the major investment, estimated at around 4 million euros, that Stefano Ricci has just made in Egypt to celebrate its 50th anniversary. A sumptuous show in the valley of the Luxor temples, ahead of Christian Dior, which is also planning a runway show for its men's pre-collection at the pyramids of Giza in Cairo in December. The Italian label could not have done a better job of surprising its VIP clients, embarking 400 guests for an unforgettable weekend in the heart of ancient Egypt. An operation that required more than 700 people, including 200 from Italy.
The days when designer Stefano Ricci worked in his small workshop designing ties with his wife Claudia are long gone. He was twenty years old in 1972 when he starting running to the silk manufacturers in Como to have his designs for his ties made. His first collection, presented at the Pitti Uomo men's show, attracted the attention of American department stores. That's when the adventure began.
Although It was not until the 1990s that the company's business exploded, with an offer that gradually expanded to include shirts and small leather goods, until it was able to offer complete looks for men, from formal wear to sportswear, including knitwear and shoes, not forgetting the precious cufflinks made by its goldsmiths.
A universe that has expanded constantly in recent years with a junior line, perfumes and collections for the home, from tableware to linen and furnishings, not forgetting wine and cigars. For its 50th anniversary, the brand, which for some years has also offered a line of ten or so crocodile bags for the wives of its wealthiest customers, presented for the first time a complete range of bags, jewellery and gold and jewelled belt buckles.
Today, the Stefano Ricci label employs 350 people and has 70 boutiques worldwide, 35 of which are directly managed, which it hopes to increase to 80 by 2023. For nearly fifteen years, the entrepreneur has been accompanied by his two sons, the label's creative director Filippo aged 39, and CEO Niccolo Ricci.
"We decide everything as a family, that's our strength," explains Stefano Ricci, while noting that fifty years ago it was easier. "Creating a brand today is really hard, there is a lot of competition. But I've always rejected the attraction for big numbers, preferring to focus on quality. This quality, which emphasises the excellence of Italian craftsmanship, both in the materials and in the production - the group has its silk fabrics made by the historic silk company Antico Setificio Fiorentino founded in Florence, which it acquired in 2010 - as well as in the service and attention paid to customers, whoever they may be, has enabled it to make the difference."
"Some of our competiton's choices, such as taking a more fashionable approach with their collections, have left us with some market share. We have seen many customers who were a little confused come to us. Men need certainty. In addition, our strategy of targeting the wealthiest customers from the start has paid off. After Covid, the landscape has changed. We are living in a time of great opportunities and we expect exponential growth in the next two years," says Niccolo Ricci.
Restrictions in China continue to have a negative impact on the company in the market, as they do on its competitors, but the manager is convinced that with the recovery, the Chinese clientele will return in force. Stefano Ricci continues to invest in the country, having just opened a shop in the south, in Sanya, while it will soon open a shop in the city of Taiyuan and a 500 square metre space in the SKP shopping centre in Beijing.
Also in Asia, the label announced the imminent opening of a shop-in-shop in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and a boutique in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. In Russia, where it generated 10% of its turnover, its nine shops remained open, despite the European sanctions, because they are managed by a local licensee and "are only supplied with products that do not exceed 300 euros", the manager says.
The United States, where the brand will move its New York shop on Park Avenue to a larger location on 57th Street at the end of October, and Europe are now Stefano Ricci's main markets, with respective shares of 27% and 25% of total turnover, more than 80% of which is generated outside Italy.
More than ever, the company intends to continue to pamper its VIP customers, some 400 privileged people out of a customer base of around 10,000 people. The long-term objective is to double the number of these 400 members of its very select "SR Club", each of whom spends an average of 50,000 to 2 million euros per year on Stefano Ricci products, many of whom, of course, were on the trip to Luxor.
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