MILAN — Eight months after the exit from Luxottica of chief executive officer Andrea Guerra, Leonardo Del Vecchio, chairman of the Italian eyewear group, discussed the subject, telling the La Repubblica daily on Wednesday that he had “not been reassured enough” by Guerra on the company’s continuity.
Del Vecchio also had been disappointed by the lack of investment in emerging countries. “Luxottica was doing well in the same countries where it was doing well even before the arrival of Guerra, i.e., Europe and the U.S.,” he explained, lamenting “nonexistent investments” in Asia and Australia, for example.
Del Vecchio said he “had not questioned anything for a long time,” in light of the positive performance of the group, but that, when Guerra “started to be interested in things beyond his work, [he] tried to better understand.”
Rumors about a possible role for Guerra in Italy’s government under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi emerged in early 2014. Guerra, who left Luxottica in September, was part of Renzi’s entourage during his trip to Australia earlier this year for the G20 meeting and is expected to function as a liaison with the industrial world, zoom in on problem situations and offer solutions. Guerra is also a member of the steering committee of Strategico Italiano SpA, the holding firm controlled by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, a joint-stock company under public control. In February, he joined the board of Coach Inc. Guerra also serves on the board of hearing-aid firm Amplifon SpA and Ariston Thermo SpA, a leading manufacturer of domestic appliances. Recently, he has been tipped as a possible candidate as a new mayor of Milan and was said to be headed to Eataly as ceo.
In the interview, Del Vecchio said he was “not entirely satisfied” by Guerra’s answers to his questions on the company’s continuity. The chairman reasoned that Guerra saw this as “an intrusion. He thought I wanted to take his place and avoided confrontation. Until a few months earlier, I was very grateful for what he was doing, even if I was starting to have some doubts on the strategic choices of the group.”
Del Vecchio noted that he has since proposed to the board investments in Asia and a “strategy of acquisitions on emerging markets.”