Online Channel, China Helped Valentino Weather Pandemic in 2020

MILAN – Solid growth in its e-commerce channel, which climbed 62 percent, and a brisk retail performance in Mainland China helped Valentino weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, which drove revenues down 28 percent.

In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, the Rome-based couture house reported sales of 882 million euros, compared with 1.22 billion euros in 2019, reflecting the impact of travel restrictions and lockdowns.

That said, Valentino benefited from omnichannel integration and online entertainment content. This was set in motion in the early stages of the health emergency. For example, in April, under the #chezmaisonvalentino moniker on Instagram, the company broadcast an Alicia Keys performance, the first of a series.

Online sales now represent 14 percent of total retail revenues.

“The financial results of 2020 underscore a sector that was strongly penalized by the global health emergency. Today more than ever, it is fundamental to concentrate on our omnichannel business with a strong focus on innovation and advanced digital technologies,” said Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Valentino’s chairman. “The first pre-collection, Diary Spring 2021, launched during the brand’s new course, has positively impacted global business. This confirms once again the strong interest from our customers in our products, a true expression of the highest craftsmanship, creativity, and quality. Our aim is to be increasingly more streamlined and flexible, adapting effortlessly to the changing needs of the market in a quest for new opportunities.”

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The luxury house is controlled by the Qatar-based Mayhoola, which also owns Balmain and Pal Zileri.

Valentino has been reinforcing the brand’s online experience and in 2017, the company partnered with the Yoox Net-a-porter Group to develop a new omnichannel business model called Next Era, which allows customers unprecedented online access to any product they want.

In the year, the Valentino online channel alone registered a 77 percent increase in sales.

Valentino touted its clienteling and remote sales strategy, further reinforced during the second half of 2020, which helped accelerate business.

In particular, the last quarter of 2020 showed a 25 percent increase in orders for the pre-fall 2021 collection compared with the pre-spring 2021 season. Presented in July 2020, the pre-fall season is in line with the same season in the previous year, ahead of the health emergency.

As per the latest data, in 2019, ready-to-wear accounted for 36 percent of total sales and accessories for 63 percent.

The company last year expanded its store in Dallas and opened a unit in Mexico City for a total of 214 directly operated boutiques.

As reported, last year Valentino closed its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York and its store on Hong Kong’s Canton Road.

The retail business in Mainland China grew 44 percent compared to 2019. The region has increasingly been a focus for Valentino.

To wit, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli conceived the interactive brand experience dubbed “Valentino: Re-Signify Part One Shanghai” that bowed in December and ran until Jan. 17 at the contemporary art museum Power Station of Art in Shanghai. Piccioli has been giving new meaning to the Valentino codes, which he underscores are still relevant today, to render them more contemporary and inclusive.

The pandemic has also changed Valentino’s show plans and schedules. In September, the brand staged its runway show in Milan instead of Paris, and, for fall, it will again present its ready-to-wear collection in the Italian city on March 1. Similarly, last month, the company unveiled its spring 2021 couture collection digitally, streaming the show filmed at Palazzo Colonna in Rome.

Last year, Valentino went through a C-suite shake-up. Chief executive officer Jacopo Venturini joined in June, succeeding the long-tenured Stefano Sassi, and he has since continued to bulk up his team, adding new roles to the company that are attuned to the times.

Most recently, Enzo Quarenghi joined the house as chief client officer and digital acquisition, effective Jan. 12. This position is part of a new division spearheaded by Venturini, to whom Quarenghi reports, and the new role signals Valentino’s increased focus on digital and an acceleration of its strategy to place customers at the center of its business, communication and marketing activities.

Quarenghi was previously Visa Italy’s ceo, and brings to Valentino expertise in customer experience and digital innovation.

As reported, last October Valentino tapped Rosa Santamaria Maurizio as its new chief human resources officer — also a new role. A month earlier, Valentino named Laurent Bergamo ceo, Americas. Bergamo reports to chief commercial officer Marco Giacometti, who assumed his role in April.

Full financial figures are expected to be released in April, following the board’s approval.


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