One can immediately grasp that the corporate identity does not include being self-referential. The Visionnaire brand looks straight ahead; despite having just turned 15, along with the 60 years of the parent company IPE, and being busy organising the due celebrations. The attention is strongly focused on the future with a territorial expansion plan that will add to the established markets. A selective road map, a synthesis of strategic requirements and tactical opportunities, which the company is following in a virtuous way. Andrea Gentilini, CEO of the company since 2016, talks to us about it.
Let’s start by talking about figures.
A year of exceptional and very important investments: sales are at their highest levels (over 45 million), the EBITDA has reached its historical record of 24.5%, a marked increase compared to the previous year. The company, leader in the luxury design sector, subsidiary of Ergon Capital and owned by Alto Partners and the Cavalli family, confirms itself as one of the best performers in the sector in terms of positioning, profits and uniqueness. The result achieved is the outcome of a process undertaken by the company, which continues to invest in itself, from the opening of new flagship stores to investments in digital and traditional communication, as well as in executive strengthening in support of top management and which in 2019 will be consolidated with a further enhancement. There are already 30 flagship stores in the world, a reference channel for us, a significant go-to-market presence to create interest in the project, in the retail sales, in the creation of brand equity. With the flagship stores managed by the company, which will progressively open itself within the areas that we consider interesting, we foresee a targeted and focused strategy.
What are your markets?
We record the greatest increases in North America, where our branch is already active. Here the growth forecast goes beyond the double-digit figure, it is a very strong focus of the company presence. Last February there was the grand opening of the Los Angeles flagship store, but the company set-up started earlier, a settlement that in the last few days has also arrived in Miami with a space of over 800 square metres, and that also operates through traditional channels. We are continuing to grow in a steady manner in China, where we will reach 15 single-brand stores. It is a crucial market for luxury and design, the one in which UHNWI’s greatest presence is recorded nowdays. In the first half of the year, 3 flaghship stores will be inaugurated: the first in Suzhou, 50 km from Shanghai, a former villa of 500 square metres in the Wuzhong District; the other 2 in Shenzen, an exhibition space of 400 square metres inside the multi-brand sales point and one inside the Redstar Mall. A flagship store in Hong Kong will be operational in September, a space of 600 square metres in the city’s ‘central’ district, designed to intercept project opportunities in the APAC world and to facilitate interaction with architects, interior designers and end users, nothing less than a Visionnaire embassy, hub of professional and cultural meetings in the Asian area. We will also open our first single-brand store in Mumbai, India. In Russia, a market where our successes consolidate, we are moving to a more prestigious location in terms of size and visibility, also in Moscow, another 300 square metres inside Casa Ricca Expo. All this will be achieved already in the first half of 2019. Attention is also directed to the African market, which will be of absolute interest. We are talking about countries like South Africa, certainly, but also about North Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Nigeria. We already have some settlements, but we are working on the opening of a single-brand store in Nigeria, and several contacts for other openings, a business that is becoming less and less spot and more structured.
The company has always been a pioneer, in 1959 it was the first to use foam for sofas, at the time used only for cars. How do you bring this value forward?
The courageous love for the challenge is in Visionnaire’s DNA and stems from a disposition to risk taking, from which it is possible to extract something extraordinary, able to incorporate important shots of creative imagination. The courageous challenge is the most powerful tool of creative extroversion that enhances the ‘non-standard’.
Can you anticipate anything for us about the new products for the Salone?
Visionnaire confirms its presence at the trade fair with a space of 820 square metres, designed by Alessandro La Spada in tandem with the creative direction of Eleonore Cavalli. Developed in fifteen settings, the project draws inspiration from a reflection on the environment, intended as a result of the dialogue between natural and artificial presence. The new Visionnaire collection, entitled for the occasion of the Anniversary, includes over 80 products, mainly designed for In & Out residential projects, but also for Contract use. Confirming its aptitude for tailoring, Visionnaire introduces some technical innovations, defining a horizon of new concept proposals. In addition to the new collection, a new Visionnaire capsule collection of accessories will also be previewed, the result of an original narrative path that translates into an Art Design lexicon.
The Salone is also the occasion for celebrating the double birthday.
It is a significant anniversary that we are celebrating with a Decàlogo, manifesto of intentions and author’s book useful for presenting the ten fundamental and essential values of the company that, in addition to proposing a narrative on the brand’s historical roots, makes it possible to trace the trajectories of its ambitious future. From storytelling this take cue by the shots by Delfino Sisto Legnani collected in the photo exhibition set up in the Wunderkammer space of the Visionnaire flagship store in Milan, together with a setting containing 15 icons of the Visionnaire production.