Retail in Asia


Interview: Travel retail a “pivotal” channel for Kering Eyewear

Since the beginning, Kering Eyewear has had its eyes on the prize, with the ambition of becoming the undisputed leader in the luxury eyewear segment. Today, Kering Eyewear takes its vision even further, with an ambitious plan to triple its travel retail footprint by 2024. Its impressive first-half performance showed double-digit growth, confirming the positive effects of its ‘Digital Retail Concept’ and recent acquisition of Maui Jim.

In this exclusive Q&A, Kering Eyewear head of global travel retail Emanuele Lasagna gives an overview on the health of the luxury eyewear company’s travel retail business. He talks about the biggest trends and challenges shaping the sunglasses category and the importance of travel retail, which he describes as “a key driver for growth”.

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In Q1 2023, Kering Eyewear posted an +11 percent increase on a comparable basis to €433 million. What factors led to this performance? What do your recovery prospects look like for the rest of 2023 and early 2024?

This year, Kering Eyewear achieved new record results both in Q1 and H1, while 2022 has been our best year ever with more than €1.1 billion (USD1.08 billion) in revenues.

In the first half of 2023, Kering Eyewear generated total revenue of €869 million (USD932.4 million), with a growth of +51 percent as reported. This was driven by the successful development of our brand portfolio and the ongoing integration of Maui Jim, which has contributed to this growth significantly.

This important achievement reaffirmed the effectiveness of Kering Eyewear’s sales organisation and the power of our brand portfolio. It also confirms the travel retail business as one of the company’s main growth drivers.

Maui Jim remains a core focus for Kering Eyewear in 2024. Source: Kering Eyewear
In your view, what are the biggest challenges facing the sunglasses category as it continues to recover?

Our 2023 results have shown that Kering Eyewear’s travel retail business is in good health. Thanks to the support of our partners, we recovered faster than the category average and are already performing far above pre-pandemic levels.

Our strength lies in our ability to turn challenges into opportunities. We never stopped investing in this channel. We have continued to work on strategic plans that allowed us to further elevate perception of the sunglasses category, reinforcing Kering Eyewear’s position to be the foremost luxury eyewear company in travel retail.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our clients who have believed in Kering Eyewear since the beginning and have always supported us towards achieving our ambitious goal to turn sunglasses into a strategic category for travel retail.

What are the biggest trends that will shape the sunglasses category in the post-pandemic landscape?

The socioeconomic and geopolitical uncertainties of the post-COVID world have permanently changed consumer behaviours. This has forced us to think differently and develop new ideas. By being innovative and disruptive we can anticipate evolving consumer needs with our partners.

In terms of category trends, we see the need for exclusivity, experience and uniqueness. Together with our partners, we are already working on new proposals that leverage our strong brand portfolio and innovative digital in-store experience.

How important is travel retail to the overall business of Kering Eyewear? Is it more showcase or sales driver?

Travel retail has always been pivotal for Kering Eyewear. While the channel is surely an important showcase for our brands and our collections, it will always represent a key driver of the company’s growth.

With the addition of Maui Jim to our portfolio, we can expand our customer base by leveraging its proprietary and patented revolutionary PolarizedPlus2 lens technology.

In December 2022, Kering Eyewear opened a shop-in-shop at cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex, in collaboration with long-standing partner China Duty Free Group (CDFG). Source: Kering Eyewear
Travel retail-exclusives are a key part of the Kering Eyewear portfolio. Will this continue to play a significant role in your travel retail approach?

Travel retail will always have a central role at Kering Eyewear. We are committed to investing in developing this important channel considering all the aspects of the business, from consumer needs to retailer expectation.

In the sunglasses category, we were the first in the industry to introduce such strong travel retail-exclusive campaigns and projects. Now it is time to innovate again. We are changing the way we perceive and offer exclusivity, tailoring our offers to best suit different consumer demographics.

Kering Eyewear recently acquired French manufacturing firm Usinage & Nouvelles Technologies (UNT) – what does this acquisition mean for your innovation pipeline?

Last June, Kering Eyewear completed the acquisition of UNT, which is a key player in the manufacturing of high-precision metal and mechanical components. UNT has always been an emblem of high quality and production perfection in the luxury eyewear industry. Also, Kering Eyewear and UNT share the same vision and values of excellence, craftsmanship, innovation and sustainability.

Together with the acquisition of Manufacture Kering Eyewear in 2017 in France  – previously Manufacture Cartier Lunettes – and the stake we’ve held in Trenti Industria Occhiali in Italy since 2019, this acquisition represents another important step in the industrial development strategy of Kering Eyewear.

Our goal is to control our supply chain through strategic partnerships with industry-leading manufacturers, ensuring an unparalleled level of quality and technical expertise throughout our portfolio.

Kering Eyewear’s digital retail concept changed the landscape for sunglasses merchandising and retailing in travel retail – where do you see this concept going in 2024?

Kering Eyewear’s Digital Retail Concept (DRC) spaces are present in the most exclusive locations worldwide on both domestic and travel retail.

Thanks to the power of digital, the DRC creates a state-of-the-art presentation platform for Kering Eyewear’s luxury brands which enhances consumers’ in-store experiences and engages customers and sales associates’ needs. Come and visit us at our venue in Cannes to see it for yourself.

The acquisition of UNT represents an important step in the industrial development strategy of Kering Eyewear. Source: Kering Eyewear
How can Trinity partnerships evolve to better unlock the potential of the sunglasses category?

Thanks to our Digital Retail Concept, the distinctive Kering Eyewear set-up – with screens updatable in real-time and changing the look of the shop in just one click – our company has been able to increase the focus on sunglasses both from our business partners and from airports.

This drives the productivity and profitability of the wider sunglasses category, so much so that it is no longer perceived as a secondary category for travel retail. This opens the possibility for us to work more collaboratively with operators and airports and gain more qualitative spaces in high-traffic areas.

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Kering Eyewear’s priority is to keep on developing our business throughout our entire portfolio of brands, continuing to serve our customers and partners with the highest level of quality and attention.

Of course, a special focus for the upcoming months will be on Gucci, which is taking a new creative direction, and on Maui Jim, which is expanding its geographical footprint also in Europe and Asia on top of the US.