MILAN — Coccinelle is eyeing an expansion outside Italian borders and has promoted Fabrizio Stroppa as its new chief executive officer, effective Oct. 15. Stroppa, who is chief commercial officer of the Italian accessories brand, succeeds Andrea Baldo, who is leaving after two years at the helm.
Coccinelle plans to leverage Stroppa’s years of experience at Coach, where he held the role of vice president of sales, Europe, and at Mulberry, where he served as global head of sales. Prior to that, Stroppa was brand manager at Donna Karan in the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton headquarters in Japan. He has also worked at Giorgio Armani.
Stroppa’s remit is to continue to redefine the brand with a fashion element, a strategy initiated by Baldo. “The brand has a history of 40 years in business, offering quality hides at an affordable price and special details,” said Stroppa.
Coccinelle was founded in 1978 in Sala Baganza, near Parma, Italy, by the Mazzieri family. In 2012, the Korean E-Land fund, acquired the company and the Mazzieri family exited. Since then, Coccinelle has begun a process of internationalization. “We are now telling the story of the brand, elevating its fashion content, reaching out to new customers without changing our price range,” said Stroppa. The core handbags retail at around 250 euros.
In February last year, Eleonora Pujia and Vinciane Stouvenaker were tapped as the brand’s first creative directors. After experiences at Prada and Miu Miu on the commercial side, Pujia, who joined Coccinelle in 1994 holding different roles including that of communications director, is a lawyer with a master’s in integrated communication. Stouvenaker, who was raised in Belgium, collaborated with several brands, including Fratelli Rossetti and Iceberg, before launching the De Couture accessories label with her husband, Massimo Mariotti. In 2009, she left the control of the brand to her husband and in 2011 started collaborating with Coccinelle.
The first collection bowed for fall 2017 and for spring the creative directors experimented with materials other than leather, such as Viennese straw and rattan, reworking them into pretty, midsize flap or bucket bags.
Stroppa said the brand received “very positive feedback” as the designs helped “raise target and perception,” and appeal to existing and new customers.
Coccinelle is expected to report sales of almost 100 million euros in 2018, up from 65 million euros three years ago, and Stroppa said the plan is to double the 2018 figure in three years.
The brand counts 150 stores in the world; 35 are owned and 1,000 are wholesale clients.
For two years, Coccinelle has seen a boost in its travel retail channel, which includes 150 doors globally. Stroppa emphasized the importance of being available on cruise ships.
“The Chinese have discovered this way of traveling, and while cruises were predominantly held on the Mediterranean and the Caribbean seas, now they are increasingly sailing to Korea, China and Hong Kong,” said the executive. “Tourists spend around a week on a cruise, they walk by the shop windows again and again and are tempted to drop in and buy something, often a clutch or mini-bag for the evening events there. At an airport, they might be more time-constrained.”
The brand also relaunched its web site in September last year and works with partners such as Stylebop and Zalando and said digital growth has been phenomenal. Zalando is helping Coccinelle build its business in Germany, which is already a strong market for the brand, as is Russia. A first directly operated flagship opened in Munich last year. The company is targeting growth in the U.K., where there are two existing directly operated stores in London, and in France, where it is available at Galeries Lafayette, for example.
Italy accounts for 48 percent of sales. “This year, as a ‘gift’ for our 40 years, we will open a beautiful flagship in Milan at the end of November or early December,” said Stroppa. Located on the city’s pedestrian and shopping street Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, it will be located opposite a Michael Kors unit.
Asia and China are key targets for the company, which opened 22 monobrands in two years in the region and there are plans to open 30 to 40 additional stores by the end of 2019.
While E-Land may be Korean, Stroppa said the company had to “clean up” that market, and plans to return to it. It will be making similar moves in the Japanese market. Mandarina Duck, Sutor Mantellassi, Gloverall, Lochcarron and K-swiss are other fashion brands controlled by E-Land.